Friday, May 11, 2018

Shabbat Around the Table -- B'char-Bechukotai

This week's double parsha, B'char-Bechukotai, outlines the laws of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years: every seven years, the land is not worked in order to give it time to rest, and every 49 years (seven sevens), the land is given time to rest and slaves are set free and lands are returned to their original owners. These agrarian laws remind me of my favorite agrarian law, found in an earlier section of Torah, often referred to as the "corners of our fields."

When harvesting grains or gathering fruits, the ancient Israelites were instructed to leave the corners of their fields untouched and to leave fallen fruit on the ground. In this way, the poor could come and glean for themselves without shame, knowing that the food was intended for them.

This always seemed to me to be another one of those beautiful thousand year old traditions that was impossible to replicate in the modern world. But then I started thinking about my almost daily trips to the grocery store. How easy to simply pick up an extra box of pasta or some canned veggies and drop them in a food collection bin. It's also the perfect job for a young child. Give them the responsibility of selecting a few items of food for someone who is hungry, and teach them that giving to others in need is simply what we do, just like buying food for ourselves. When thinking of ourselves, we're obligated to think of others as well.

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