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Feasting With Hashem and Feasting With the Poor

Our parsha contains two juxtaposed mitzvot with seemingly no connection between them: “When you slaughter a peace offering to the Lord, you shall slaughter it for your acceptance. It may be eaten on the day you slaughter it and on the next day, but anything left over until the third day shall be burned in fire … When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not fully reap the corner of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you collect the (fallen) individual grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger. I am the Lord, your God, (Vayikra 19:5–10).”

The first mitzvah is the peace offering (korban shelamim) and the mitzvah to eat it by the third day. The second are the mitzvot of pe’ah (a corner of the field), leket (fallen stalks), olelot and peret (in a vineyard), which one must leave for the poor.

Is there a connection? One sacrifices a peace offering to be “desirable” to Hashem. This passage notes the obligation to eat it on the day it is slaughtered—overnight and till sunset on the next day—and to burn whatever remains on the third day.

Why did the Torah specifically mention the korban shelamim here? There are defined times for eating other sacrifices, too. And the Torah has already talked about the shelamim in chapter seven!

The korban shelamim is a sacrifice in which the bringer participates in the eating, a feast together with Hashem. A festive meal limited by time to which one has to invite friends, so the sacrifice does not become notar (leftovers).

Such a feast is all well and good, as long as one also remembers the poor. Just as a person craves to eat with Hashem, so to speak, so should he be aware of eating with the poor. The mitzvot in our verses emphasize that the owner is not giving gifts to the poor, but that the poor come and eat with him in his field. They come and gather what is theirs, alongside what belongs to the owner!

The connection between the two feasts is the perfect bond: a meal with Hashem alongside eating with the poor. This is our goal: to excel in the observance of our mitzvot, but not to forget that care and concern for those less fortunate is a central facet of the entire mitzvah system.

These mitzvot of gifts to the poor are only incumbent upon field and vineyard owners in Eretz Yisrael (Sefer Hamitzvot 120, Sefer Hachinuch 217 and Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 332). Why? Isn’t help for the poor important elsewhere? After all, the mitzvah of tzedakah is universal!

Produce from Eretz Yisrael is holy. Each individual Jew’s relationship to holiness stems from his or her connection to the Jewish people as a whole. Only after one gives a portion of his fruits to the poor; only after he thinks about the klal, can the holiness also come to him.

Eretz Yisrael is also the state of Israel. The Torah gives us guidelines on how to build a country in Eretz Yisrael. A country to be founded on care for the poor. Not only through money, but through the earth itself, and the holiness that grows in it. A country that operates from a klal Yisrael perspective—linking the people of Israel to the land of Israel, the Torah of Israel and to the Almighty, giver of the Torah.


Rabbi Yosef Zvi Rimon is Head of Mizrachi’s Educational Advisory Board and Rabbinic Council. He serves as the Rabbi of Gush Etzion, Rosh Yeshiva of the Jerusalem College of Technology and is the Founder and Chairman of Sulamot and La’Ofek.

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