In the section of Leviticus dealing with the festival of Shavuot, we read:
And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corner of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleaning of thy harvest; thou shalt leave them for the poor, and for the stranger: I am the LORD your God
וּבְקֻצְרְכֶם אֶת-קְצִיר אַרְצְכֶם, לֹא-תְכַלֶּה פְּאַת שָׂדְךָ בְּקֻצְרֶךָ, וְלֶקֶט קְצִירְךָ, לֹא תְלַקֵּט; לֶעָנִי וְלַגֵּר תַּעֲזֹב אֹתָם, אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם.
Leviticus 23:22, old JPS translation, via Mechon-Mamre
R. Avdimi ben R. Yose said:
Why does Scripture place this precept in the middle of the chapter of festivals? To teach that if someone leaves his gifts for the poor as he is commanded, it is regarded as if he had built the Temple and brought offerings in it.
And Chatam Sofer (Rabbi Moshe Sofer, 1762-1839), further taught that Shavuot is only one day, instead of the seven for Passover and Sukkot, because the rest of the week for Shavuot is spent sharing one’s prosperity with the poor.
As Shavuot approaches, we might consider: In the system of thought identifying Shavuot with Revelation — making the holiday about Torah and how we receive it (as well as about the wheat harvest) — what would it mean to extend the holiday for the remainder of the festival week? I.e., what is the “Torah” equivalent of “sharing one’s prosperity with the poor”?
I’ll just leave this question, so as not to prejudice your answer. If you have an idea, please share!
Click here if you’d like to see one suggestion.
We counted 38 on the evening of May 11. Tonight, we count….
Making the Omer Count
from On the Road to Knowing: A Journey Away from Oppression
A key element in the journey from liberation to revelation is understanding the workings of oppression, and our part in them. We cannot work effectively to end what we do not comprehend.
So this year, moving from Passover to Shavuot, I commit to learning more about how oppression works and how liberation is accomplished. I invite others to join me:
Let’s work together, as we count the Omer, to make this Omer count.
Thoughts and sources welcome.
Share this graphic to encourage others to participate.
Aware that we are on a journey toward knowing God — from liberation to revelation — I undertake to know more today than I did yesterday about the workings of oppression.
I bless and count [full Hebrew blessings in feminine and masculine address]:
Blessed are You, God, Ruler/Spirit of the Universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to count the Omer.
In the spirit of the Exodus, I pray for the release of all whose bodies and spirits remain captive, and pledge my own hands to help effect that liberation.
Six Days to Share…
What if, instead of just sharing “our” prosperity with others, we took six days to really grapple with the underlying problems that affect the earning power and so many other aspects of life for people of color? (Remember, all the produce is really God’s, according to the Torah.)
Many posts in this blog have attempted to move us in this direction. Brave New Films — a media, education, and grassroots organization that “inspires, empowers, motivates, and teaches civic participation” — offers a number of resources of use in this effort. Here, in case you have not yet seen it or want to easily share it with someone else, is a video Brave New Films created to highlight these points
- Something is wrong when thousands of resumes are mailed to employers with identical information and black-sounding names are 50% less likely to get a call back.
- Something is wrong when black people are charged prices roughly $700 higher than white people when buying cars.
- Something is wrong when black drivers are twice as likely to get pulled over by the police and black male teens are 21 times more likely to be killed by cops than their white counterparts.
- Something is wrong when black people are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of white people.
- And something is terribly wrong if we stand by and continue to let this happen.