Culture, Israel, Justice, Politics, Religion

In our mouths and in our hearts: Day 23

Today: feeding the priests, and the sabbatical year
271. “You may not partake in your settlements of … the contributions of your hands.” (Deuteronomy 12:17) = when the priest eats the first fruits that you bring to the Temple, he can’t eat them outside of Jerusalem
272. “You shall recite as follows before Adonai your God: ‘My father was a fugitive Aramean’, etc.” (Deuteronomy 26:5-10) = when you bring the first fruits to the Temple
273. “As the first yield of your baking, you shall set aside a loaf as a gift.” (Numbers 15:20) = when you bake bread, separate “challah” for the priests
274. “This shall be the priests’ due from the people: Everyone who offers a sacrifice, whether an ox or a sheep, must give the shoulder, the cheeks, and the stomach to the priest.” (Deuteronomy 18:3)
275. “The first shearing of your sheep you shall give to [the priest].” (Deuteronomy 18:4)
276. “The first issue of the womb of every being, human or beast, that is offered to God, shall be yours [the priests’], but you shall have the first-born of humans redeemed.” (Numbers 18:15) = pidyon haben
277. “Every firstling ass you shall redeem with a sheep…” (Exodus 23:13)
278. “…and if you do not redeem it, you must break its neck.” (Exodus 23:13)
279. “You shall rest from plowing and harvesting.” (Exodus 34:21) = this doesn’t refer to Shabbat (since we have the commandment to rest on Shabbat elsewhere); it means that every 7th year, the land shall rest
280. “In the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath of complete rest, a sabbath of God: you shall not sow your field…” (Leviticus 25:4)
281. “…and you shall not prune your vineyard.” (Leviticus 25:4) = in the 7th year
282. “You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest.” (Leviticus 25:5) = in the 7th year
283. “You shall not gather the grapes of your untrimmed vines.” (Leviticus 25:5) = in the 7th year
284. “In the seventh year you shall let [the land] lie fallow.” (Exodus 23:11) = all produce becomes public property
285. “You must remit whatever is due you from your kin.” (Deuteronomy 15:3) = all debts are cancelled in the 7th year

2 thoughts on “In our mouths and in our hearts: Day 23

  1. I often read these laws and wonder if they were ever kept. maybe I’m cynical.
    I’d forgotten to count omer till I’d seen this.

  2. Yeah. The way shemitah is actually observed in Israel today is either by selling the land to non-Jews, or if you don’t hold by that, then importing all of your vegetables from outside Israel. Freezing food beforehand (or otherwise making it non-perishable) would be an option, except the Mishnah extends the laws of shevi’it to include bi’ur — getting rid of a given species of produce when that species would no longer be available to harvest. I don’t know enough about agriculture to know whether it’s really possible to observe these laws self-sufficiently without starving, but no one seems to be trying it, so signs point to no.

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