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Health, Nutrition & Torah: Behar Sinai

| May 5, 2010

Courtesy Alexander Smolianitski (http://flickr.com/photos/smolianitski/)

Courtesy Alexander Smolianitski (http://flickr.com/photos/smolianitski/)

The Text:
25:3-4  Six years you may sow your field and six years you may prune your vineyard and gather in the yield.  But in the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath of complete rest, a sabbath of the Lord:  you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard.

25:6  But you may eat whatever the land during its sabbath will produce – you, your male and female slaves, the hired and bound laborers who live with you and your cattle and the beasts in your land may eat all its yield.

25:11-12  That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you:  you shall not sow, neither shall you reap the aftergrowth or harvest the untrimmed vines, for it is a jubilee.  It shall be holy to you:  you may only eat the growth direct from the field.

25:20  And should you ask, “What are we to eat in the seventh year, if we may neither sow nor gather in our crops?”  I will ordain My blessing for you in the sixth year, so that it shall yield a crop sufficient for three years.  When you sow in the eighth year, you will still be eating old grain of that crop; you will be eating the old until the ninth year, until its crops come in.

The Context:
God lays out for Moses the notion of a sabbatical and a jubilee year. Every seventh (the sabbatical) and fiftieth (the jubilee) year, all work on the land must stop to allow it time to rest and regenerate. During these years, the land is not cultivated, but whatever it produces may be eaten.

What it Means for Advocates:
God establishes a code of conduct that promotes environmental consciousness.  What are the benefits of such a code?  What role do sustainability and conservation play in our efforts to alleviate global poverty?

God promises to provide sufficient grain during the sixth year of an agricultural cycle so as to compensate for what we will lose in the seventh.  In order to sustain ourselves during sabbatical years, we must learn to plan ahead and moderate our consumption.  Why is curtailing our use of global resources an important part of fostering growth and prosperity in impoverished communities?

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