Shabbat Shalom: The Fruits of Our Harvest

Sep 4, 2020 | Article

Shabbat Shalom: The Fruits of Our Harvest

A seed, soil, and water—the elements are so simple; what results, so miraculous. 

Science can explain how the individual components elegantly embody the totality of creation. But science falls short. It can analyze the chemistry of water and reveal the composition of soil and of a seedling, and still, something remains beyond explanation. 

The fertile trio—seed, soil, and water, along with a fourth, the sun—when married together generally produce the same outcome, over and over again, as dependable as… well, the sun rising in the east and winter turning into spring. Likewise, even with our considerable originality, we humans are vastly more alike than we are different. We share both the miracle of our individual births and our oneness, the process of creation and the vulnerability inherent in life itself. 

This week’s Torah portion, Ki Tavo, entreats the farmer and citizenry alike to “take the first of all the fruit of the earth,” place it in a basket, and offer it to the Lord. That offering demands that we be generous with that most precious portion of our bounty. And it reminds us that that bounty is the result of a process much larger than ourselves. Our metaphorical harvest depends not just on our skill or our work but on the fecundity of the seed, the composition of the soil, the action of water, and the presence of sunlight. That portion we set aside in thanks reminds us that the miracle of creation is not of our own making. 

We all benefit from the same core elements: from one another, from mentors and teachers, and from the community that those who came before us built. Our community needs all of us to plant and till and share the bounty, lest the fields lay empty and fallow.

So I ask of you, my fellow farmers, to bring your bounty. Offer your first fruits. Lay them at the doorsteps of our schools, our congregations, our aid agencies. Now is the time to plant so others can reap the harvest, and let all of us prosper together. 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Jay Strear
President & CEO