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What is the Jewish view on farming?

by Rabbi Mendy Hecht

  

Library » Mitzvot » Agriculture Related | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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A. Funny question. Serious answer. Torah teaches us everything—including how to live like John Deere.

B. Here’s 24 mitzvahs for the Farmer Bob within: Positive Mitzvahs 119-130 and 134-138, and Negative Mitzvahs 210-214 and 220-221. These detail how to run a farm according to Torah. How to treat your workers and your animals. How to give to the poor. How to give to G-d. How to reap a bountiful harvest. How to give to the poor so that you reap a bountiful harvest. From G-d.

C. The Torah’s rules don’t just make for more earth-sensitive agriculture, or more angelic farmers—they teach us to give. A field to a farmer is an operating room to a neurosurgeon—that’s where they make their money. So whether you work in a courtroom, coatroom, boardroom or barroom, give of everything you’ve got.

[Among the agricultural Mitzvahs enumerated below, (a) some of them applied everywhere, but only when the Temple stood in Jerusalem; (b) some applied only in the Land of Israel, and only during Temple times; (c) some apply everywhere at all times; (d) some apply at all times, but only in the Land of Israel. If you are actually a farmer, or contemplating entering the profession, you will need to study these laws in depth to discover which of these laws apply to your situation. (Click here to read 'Which Mitzvahs are only observed in the Land of Israel?')]

The Torah’s rules don’t just make for more earth-sensitive agriculture, or more angelic farmers—they teach us to give
What are the "farmer's mitzvahs?"

1. The Field of Charity

Before there was socialism, there was Judaism. So:

Negative Mitzvah #210: Don’t harvest a corner of your fields and orchards... (Click here to read 'What is Peah?')

Positive Mitzvah #120: ...leave it for the poor to harvest for themselves.

Negative Mitzvah #211: Don’t retrieve individual stalks that fall to earth...

Positive Mitzvah #121: ...leave them for the poor to gather for themselves.

Negative Mitzvah #212: Don’t pluck every single grape off your vines at “press time”...

Positive Mitzvah #123: ...leave the clusters of little ones for the poor to pluck for themselves.

Negative Mitzvah #213: Don’t retrieve individual grapes that fall off the vine at harvest…

Positive Mitzvah #124: …leave them for the poor to gather for themselves.

Negative Mitzvah #214: Don’t return to your field to retrieve any produce you forgot there…

Positive Mitzvah #122: …leave it for the poor to collect for themselves.


2. Whoa, Farmer! G-d is Your Foreman

Besides giving to others, the Jewish farmer must give to G-d. Hence:

Positive Mitzvah #119: Bring the fruits of the fourth-year plantings as a gift to G-d in Jerusalem.

Positive Mitzvah #125: Bring the first fruits of your harvest as a gift to G-d in Jerusalem. (Click here to read  'What is bikurim?')

Positive Mitzvah #126: Bring of the first of your harvest as a gift to the Kohens in Jerusalem. (Click here to read 'What is Terumah?'  and also 'What gifts were given by the Israelites to the Kohanim and Levites?')

TAGS: farmer

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COMMENTS

"What's the best way to be a farmer?"

Posted by: Gary Bauer, Lower Burrell, PA on Feb 10, 2006

It may have been a "funny question," but I learned a lot! My last name means "farmer," so I have farming in the blood. Thanks for a great article!
Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Levite
A descendant of Levi, son of Jacob. The Levites were the teachers and spiritual leaders in the Land of Israel. They had various responsibilities in the Holy Temple, including choir and orchestral duties.
Tishrei
The seventh month of the Jewish calendar. This month, which arrives in early autumn, has more holidays than any other month: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah.
Yom Kippur
Day of Atonement. This late-autumn high-holiday is the holiest day of the year. We devote this day to repentance and all healthy adults are required to fast.
Shofar
The horn of a Kosher animal. The Shofar is sounded on the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, and is intended to awaken us to repentance. Also blown to signify the conclusion of the Yom Kippur holiday.
Jerusalem
Established by King David to be the eternal capital of Israel. Both Temples were built there, and the third Temple will be situated there when the Messiah comes.
Temple
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.