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D’var Torah Emor

D’var Torah Emor

D’var Torah Emor

When you reap the harvest of your Land, you shall not completely remove the corner of your field during your harvesting, and you shall not gather up the gleanings of your harvest. (Rather,) you shall leave these for the poor person and for the stranger. I am the Lord, your God. (Leviticus 23:22)

Our verse inserts the law of gifts for the poor, pe'ah (leaving a corner of the field unharvested) and leket (leaving the fallen stalks), in the middle of the portion dealing with the holidays, with Passover and Shavuot preceding and the Tishrei holidays following the law of gifts for the poor.

Ibn Ezra offers an explanation on the level of p'shat:

The law is repeated here (having appeared four chapters earlier in Leviticus [19:9-10]) since Shavuot is the beginning of the wheat harvest, the Torah warns the farmer not to forget what he is commanded to do during those days.

That is, specifically at Shavuot, the season of wheat harvest, it is appropriate to remind the Israelite farmer of his obligation to the poor during that period.

Rashi quotes Midrash Lekaḥ Tov, which offers a midrashic explanation of the placement of the laws of gifts for the poor:

Rabbi Avdimus (in the version of Lekaḥ Tov, the name appears as Urdamus), the son of Rabbi Yosef, says: Why does Scripture place this (passage) in the very middle of (the laws regarding) the festivals, with Passover and Shavuoth on one side and Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot on the other? To teach you that whoever gives leket, (gleanings), forgotten sheaves, and pe'ah to the poor in the appropriate manner, is deemed as if he had built the Holy Temple and offered his sacrifices within it. (Rashi's version differs from the standard text of Lekaḥ Tov, which reads: "It is deemed as if the Temple stands and he offers his sacrifices within it.")

We may suggest the conceptual message of Rabbi Avdimus/Urdamus' comment. Gifts for the poor, the field owner's obligation to leave part of his crop to benefit the poor people of the nation, express concern for the weaker strata of society, and as such, the unity of the Nation of Israel. The Temple and its service too express the concept of the unity of Israel. In fact, there is a reciprocal relationship between the Temple and Israel's national unity. On one hand, building the Temple depends upon Israel' unity, and on the other, the Temple fosters the nations unity, as the Sweet Singer of Israel sang "Jerusalem built-up is as a city joined together," [Psalms 122:3] on which the Jerusalem Talmud [Bava Kamma 7:7] expounds: "Jerusalem is the city which connects Israel one to another."


On this level, the field owner who scrupulously fulfills the mitzva of giving the gifts to the poor, indeed "is deemed as having built the Temple and offered his sacrifices within it." (David Magence)

Shabbat Shalom

The Va’ad

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