"Obligations for the Poor at Harvest Time"
Rabbi Ismar Schorsh
Words often conceal the origins of the idea they denote.
Etymology and meaning diverge and thus confound. A good example relates to a
halakhic fragment in this week's parashah. I refer to the verb "to glean." The word denotes minimal gain through hard work. Basically an agricultural term, it conjures up an image of beggars at harvest time gathering whatever remains in the field after reaping. From there the meaning expands to any activity, physical or mental, that involves collecting painstakingly individual items of the same order from disparate quarters.
The etymology of the word "glean" may be medieval English or even Celtic, but the idea itself hails directly from the Torah, but one of many scattered throughout the fabric of western civilization. Without the biblical context, the social value that inheres in the word remains unilluminated. The practice of leaving gleanings in the field for the poor is adramatic example of the extent to which faith is a seedbed for charity in Judaism and later in Christianity.
In our parashah, we read an abbreviated version of a law first enunciated in last week's parashah. "And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I the Lord am your God" (Leviticus 23:22). Omitted is the parallel injunction pertaining to the harvesting of your vineyard: "You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard"(19:10).
Bearing the Plight
The spirit of both verses is identical: at the very moment when we are overcome with a sense of entitlement, we should bear the plight of others less fortunate in mind. No matter how hard we labored and worried to bring in this harvest, it does not belong wholly to us. Our personal blessing carries a measure of social responsibility. God forbids us from harvesting our crop down to the last stalk or shoot. There are first some with holding taxes to be paid.
According to the Mishnah, they take three forms: leqet, shikheha and peah. Leqet consists of gleanings dropped while harvesting. Shikheha comprises that which is inadvertently left behind in the field when the crop is transferred indoors, a sheaf of wheat or a bundle of hay. Both leqet and shikheha then pass into the public domain, irretrievably. As for peah, it is a portion of the field, at least one-sixtieth, not to be harvested at all, but left standing for the indigent. In sum, the Rabbis render concrete the ethical impulse that engendered the biblical injunction.
Two other features of that injunction are noteworthy. First, it is largely unenforceable. Compliance is a matter of personal choice. There is no provision for a horde of bureaucrats to sweep through the fields to exercise oversight. Much of what is expected is in fact beyond measure because it is utterly subjective. The ordinance projects an ideal of mutual responsibility attainable only if internalized by each landowning member of the community,
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Rabbi Schorsh served as chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminar.
May Their Memories Be For a Blessing
4/28/2013 (18 Iyar)
4/29/2013 (19 Iyar)
Rabbi Moshe Funk
5/1/2013 (21 Iyar)
Abraham Joseph Kleinbard
5/3/2013 (23 Iyar)
5/5/2013 (25 Iyar)
5/6/2013 (26 Iyar)
5/9/2013 (29 Iyar)
5/11/2013 (2 Sivan)
Sandra G. Rose
5/12/2013 (3 Sivan)
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5/14/2013 (5 Sivan)
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5/17/2013 (8 Sivan)
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5/25/2013 (16 Sivan)
5/26/2013 (17 Sivan)
5/28/2013 (19 Sivan)
5/29/2013 (20 Sivan)
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Shabbat Services: Emor
Friday, April 26th
6 p.m. Services, Chapel
Saturday, April 27th
9 a.m. Services, Sanctuary
We will celebrate the baby namings of twin sisters, Sophia Belle and Hadley Rose Roth, daughters of Carrie and Joseph Roth, and granddaughters of Alan and Gaye Taub and Linda and David Roth.
Ian Robinson will relate his Jewish experiences living in South America for the past 4 years.
Kiddush Lunch is sponsored by Carrie and Joseph Roth in honor of their naming of their daughters. Kiddush Lunch is also sponsored by Davida and Warren Robinson.
Kiddush Lunch is available through the generosity of weekly sponsors. Please e-mail or call the synagogue office if you would like to sponsor a kiddush lunch. You may also make a donation to the synagogue specifically for the Kiddush Lunch Fund by clicking here.
Condolences to Sandy (Warren) Lada on the death of her mother, Edith Burt Miller, last week in Wisconsin. May Sandy and her family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Todah Rabbah to Anne Budai for sponsoring minyan breakfast in memory of her father, Imre Erdos.
To Sheila Waldman and Gavin Waldman for sponsoring minyan breakfast in memory of their sister, Karen Waldman.
To Linda and Steve Jacobson, Randy and Brenda Soverinsky and Lou Soverinsky for sponsoring minyan breakfast in memory of Marilyn Soverinsky.
Mazel Tov to B'nai Israel Synagogue member Joan Freedman, Director of Library Services at Hillel Day School, for being honored by Metro Parent Magazine as one of the area's top five teachers. A feature and photo spread will appear in the May issue of the publication.
SAVE THE DATE:
B'NAI ISRAEL SYNAGOGUE ANNUAL MEETING
MONDAY, MAY 20TH, 7 P.M.
Upcoming Youth and Family Activities
Supervised Youth Activities, Room 3, lower level
May 4, 11, 18, 25 supervised youth activities, lower level.
To stay current on all youth and family activities, contact Ilana Glazier to join the B'nai Israel Families Facebook Group.
Attention BI Families with high school seniors
Upcoming Community Events
and TKA/BI Joint Opportunities
Laurel Park Place, Livonia
April 21-28, 2013
Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
or call 248-645-7840, ext. 365
Frankel Jewish Academy Presents:
Brighton Beach Memoirs
at The Berman Center for the Performing Arts. Thursday, May 2nd 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 5th, 2:00 p.m. Tickets available online: theberman.org or by calling 248-661-1900. Click here for event flyer.
All stitchers are welcome.
needlepoint, crochet hook or cross stitch and join the group. There is no charge to attend.
7 PM at the TKA/BI building.
FUTURE DATES: 5/21, 6/10
Just drop-in! No registration required. For more information, e-mail Gail Raben
an Evening of Learning with Rabbi Joel Roth:
"Why Can't We Just Be Jews?: What makes the Conservative Movement distinctive from the other Jewish religious movements and what is the value of recognizing those differences?"
Thursday, May 2nd, 7:30 p.m.
Congregation Beth Shalom, Oak Park
Admission is free, reservations are requested.
Bagels and Basics: Sunday, April 28th
10 a.m., TKA Chapel
Dr. Joel M. Hoffman: "A Short History of the Hebrew Language," based on his book, In the Beginning.
This event is co-sponsored by Temple Emanuel and The Metropolitan Detroit Federation of Reform Synagogues.
SAVE THE DATE:
2013 WALK FOR ISRAEL
SUNDAY, MAY 5TH, hosted by Temple Shir Shalom
with Dr. Mitch Parker
This class is held on Shabbat mornings in the lower level, Room 9. April 27th, 10 a.m.
Israel Trip Opportunity
Mitch and Cheryl Parker are leading a study trip to Israel December 2013. Overall trip theme: "Who Are We and Where Have We Been?"
For further information, please contact Mitch directly
if you wish to participate. Informational meeting: Sunday, May 5th at 5:30
Tikkun Leil Shavuot
Erev Shavuot, Tuesday May 14th
All-night study sessions led by local rabbis and Jewish educators begin after maariv and conclude with a dawn shacharit service. All are welcome. Details coming soon!
Caring Community Information
Refuah Sh'leimah/Wishing a Speedy Recovery
Please e-mail Michael Golob or call the synagogue: 248-432-2729 if you wish to add a name to our communal list. Our caring community reaches out to one another in a variety of ways. We welcome our new members warmly with a special visit and gift. We provide shiva minyan leaders. We call/visit/provide meals for members who are ill or home-bound, bring a home-cooked shiva meal to mourners in our community, and help to drive members who need a ride to synagogue services and events. If you would like to help in any way, please call or
26 Evan Chudnow
26 Marvin Kozlowski
27 Noel Lawson
27 Adam Weingarden
27 Shira Wolf
30 Charles Seigerman
30 Nathan Soverinsky
1 Joe Rose
4 Rebecca Kaufman
4 Ilana Wolf
5 Gertrude Kershenbaum
6 Susan Knoppow
6 Roy Rosen
8 Geri Feigelson
8 Howard Rosenberg
10 Jay Abramson
10 Armando Duer
10 Casey Weiss
11 Rhonda Duer
11 Paula Glazier
11 Rachel Jacobson
15 Marilyn Lantor
16 Trudy Jacobson
18 Gloria Ruskin
19 Elizabeth Lovinger
20 Linda Foster
21 Louise Lazarus
21 Megan Victor
22 David Feber
22 Karen Lovinger
26 Robin Rosen
27 Jay Kozlowski
28 Susan Birnholtz
28 Hilda Hamburger
30 Jordan Rosen
31 Irvin Kappy
If your birthday or anniversary information is not listed, please email the synagogue so we can update our records.
B'nai Israel Synagogue is affiliated with USCJ,
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.