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   by Jacob Solomon

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'When you reap your harvest in your field, and you forget a single sheaf (of produce), you shall not return to collect it, but it shall be for the proselyte, the widow, and the orphan; so that the Lord your G-d will bless you in whatever you do' (24:19).

The "forgotten sheaf" is one of the gifts the Torah gives to the poor. The forgotten sheaf, the corners of the field and the gleanings of the harvest, all appear to be "the crumbs that fall from the rich man's table". With all these items, the Torah supports the needy without unduly taxing the rich - if he is wealthy enough to own his own field, he would be unlikely to reap it to the last grain.

The notion of "so that G-d will bless you in whatever you do" being attached to a specific mitzvah including this one of leaving marginal items of the harvest for the poor is specific to the Book of Deuteronomy. Other mitzvot being similarly rewarded are:

(a) Acting as a decent person "doing what is right in the eyes of G-d" (6:18, 12:28, 13:19)
(b) Supporting those in poverty (14:29, 15:6 and10)
(c) Freeing Hebrew slaves after six years (15:18)
(d) Ensuring that those lacking wherewithal can duly celebrate the Festivals (16:14-15)
(e) Sending away the mother bird before taking her eggs or chicks (22:6-7)
(f) Returning a pledged article that is vital for the living of the debtor when he needs it (24:13)

These mitzvot all involve making an initial sacrifice to support the needs of the weaker and more helpless. All of them involve an initial loss to the donor, whether in time or money. Yet the Torah promises that G-d will bring prosperity to the giver and will "bless you in whatever you do".

Perhaps underneath it all, the Torah is promoting an abundance mentality. As in Grace after Meals: "He is G-dů who gives food to every creature that He has created".

This way of thinking may be compared to two separate drivers journeying along a country road and then, far ahead, is a high wall. The first driver gets concerned. How can he get to his destination with that huge structure blocking the way? He stops, consults his map, decides that the map is out of date, turns the car round and wastes time and gas trying to get his destination by some other route.

The second driver continues along the road and finds that road does not run into the wall, but turns in a different direction and duly leads to where he wants to go. He has faith in the map and the mentality that roads are built to get people from A to B rather than to raise their hopes and dash them. The road does appear to run into the wall, but it is an optical illusion specific to his point of observation.

Similarly, I remember reading that wealth is like organic fertilizer. Pile it up and it stinks. Spread it around and it works wonders, creating more wealth in turn.

This is the message of G-d's promise to those who support the weaker and more helpless. Get the idea that the world is not as tight and narrow as you might think. Get used to the idea that even if you do not know where the next piece of wealth is coming from, there is enough in the Creation to take care of your needs in accordance to the style you are accustomed - and more besides.

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at and on the material on the Haftara at .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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