Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Parshat Behar, 3rd Portion, Leviticus 25:19-24, May 24, 2016

“And the land will then yield its fruit and you will eat to satiety, and live upon it securely.” (Leviticus 25:19)
Every seven years Jews are told not to plant crops. Some say, “Oh, they knew about crop rotation.” 

In Torah study last week we discussed this section from another vantage point. Someone mentioned that not planting reverts the fields to the Garden of Eden, where fruit is plentiful. 

The seventh year parallels both the seven days of creation and the six days leading to the sabbath. In both cases, our work is not just rote work, but work to bring us back to God and the Earth. We appreciate the fruits of our labor. We are not just work horses, but we are given time to stand back and appreciate our labors. So our work is work, but it is work to create the Garden of Eden, a glimpse of the past and the future (when the Messiah comes). It is meaningful far beyond the yield of the crop. The rabbi suggested that our ability to work for God separates us from animals. I could object to this separation of man and animals, but I won’t. I thought the story, read this way, was pretty beautiful.

I had a number of sabbaticals every seventh year while I was teaching. It kept me and my colleagues “alive.” Doing the same thing day in and day out can get old. It would be nice if more people had an opportunity to try something different every once in a while.

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