Who Owns What?
This Torah portion opens with G-d telling the Children of Israel that they shall observe a "Sabbath of rest" for agriculture. "For six years you may sow your field and for six years you may prune your vineyard; and you may gather in its crop. But the seventh year shall be a complete rest for the land..."
Today, especially here in Iowa, we would think this is crazy talk. No way would we be able to exist if we took a year away from planting and harvesting. We would...starve and the economy would come crashing down around us.
Two interesting things:
- Only in Israel - This is one of the many commandments or mitzvot that speak the only Israel. I'm often asked, "Gosh, how do you remember and do all of the 613 Commandments. The simple answer is, "They don't all pertain to me..." This is one.
- Reminder of Who is in Charge - Everything comes from G-d. And, as a simple testimony to that, G-d sort of says, "Go ahead, test me." If a person said, "Don't worry. There will be enough of a crop to last three years until the next harvest we would not believe him/her.
And so it was and is that among observant farmers some transfer ownership to non-Jews and the produce is then given to the poor or they do cease working the land.
But, consider this: If a Sabbatical Year for the land is a good idea wouldn't it stand to reason that a Sabbatical Day...Shabbat...might be a good idea to recharge our personal storehouse?
There is plenty of talk in Iowa about health care, food for the less fortunate, etc. If only those who talk about it would pay attention to this Torah portion they may just find the answer to preventing poverty. You see, the Torah says it is our job to "strengthen" the "impoverished". It is our duty to make them whole not to put stumbling blocks in their path. Imagine how different the world would be if we stopped looking at everything from food stamps to rental assistance and medical care to job training as a handout and, rather, looked at it as if it is our duty.
When we strengthen all...we are, together, stronger.
May you have a wonderful and meaningful Shabbat!