For our merit

In the Torah reading for the first day of Sukkot, taken from Leviticus 23, is laying down  the rules of festival observance. However, it also reminds us of the commandment of charity. In verse 23:22 the Torah  again speaks about the concept of the four corners of the field.

” 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.”

Sforno comments on the ending of this verse, explaining it’s ending, אני ה’ אלוקיכם.

He writes that here God is presented as a God of everyone – from those sowing the seed to those reaping the harvest, from the owners of the crop to those for whom the corners and the gleanings are left. God does not make a distinction between rich and poor, advantaged and the disadvantaged, men and women, people who were born in the country and people who have moved there.

Rabbi Moses Alshikh writes in Torat Moshe, ” You shouldn’t think that you are giving to the poor person from your own property, or that I have despised him by not giving bread to him as I have given to you. For he is also my child, just as you are, but his portion is in your produce. It is for your merit that I have intended to give his portion from your hand.”

We owe nothing in this world. Since everything belongs to God, we are merely entrusted with the guardianship of this property and our merit depends solely on our behaviour towards it.

About the Author
Nelly Shulman is a journalist and writer currently based in Berlin. She is an author of four popular historical novels in the Russian language. She is working on the fifth novel in this series and on her first English-language novel, a historical thriller set during the Siege of Leningrad. She a Hawthornden Fellow and an alumna of the Nachum Goldmann Fellowship.
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