Friday, May 26, 2006

An Offering of Grain

by Anne Pettit

"When you enter the land that I am giving to you and you reap its harvest, you shall bring the first sheaf of your harvest to the priest. He shall elevate the sheaf before the Lord for acceptance in your behalf. . . . And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of elevation offering. . . you shall count off seven weeks. They must be complete: you must count until the day after the seventh week fifty days; then you shall bring an offering of new grain to the Lord. . . . On that same day you shall hold a celebration; it shall be a sacred occasion for you; you shall not work at your occupations. This is a law for all time in all you settlements, throughout the ages.

"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: I the Lord am your God."
Leviticus 23:10-11; 15-16; 21-22

The harvest festival of Shavuot, celebrating the bounty of the land God has given us and the revelation of Torah, and the commandment to care for the poor are inextricably linked. Although we do not have the opportunity to leave the corners and the gleanings our fields for the poor, we can still bring an offering of grain to assist the hungry in our communities.

Please bring a shopping bag of non-perishable grain-based items to:
[Insert time and location here]

Suggested items include pasta, breakfast cereal (hot or cold), cookies, crackers, pretzels, granola bars, rice, corn meal, flour, packaged convenience meals or side dishes, and anything else you can think of that is based on grain

Some Additional Thoughts

The first page is intended to be used to publicize a Shavuot food drive with a grain-based theme. It could be adjusted to suit the needs of a given community. For example, facilities that prepare meals can often use basic "raw ingredients" more effectively than individuals or families that do not have cooking knowledge or access to cooking facilities. In areas with large populations for whom beans are a favorite food, dried and/or canned beans and other "kitniyot" might be included.

The commandment of peah, leaving the corner of the field and its gleanings for the poor, is mentioned twice in Leviticus; once (Lv. 19:9) as part of the "holiness code" in Parashat Kedoshim, and once directly after the commandments concerning the observance of Shavuot, which underscores the importance at a time of celebration of ensuring that all, including the poor and the stranger in the land, can share the joyousness of the occasion.

50 Steps Toward an End to Hunger:
Traditionally, the 50 days of the omer are considered 50 steps on the path to God's revelation at Sinai; 50 steps toward holiness. To reinforce the significance of the counting of the omer, congregations and communities may wish to encourage members to give tzedakah nightly when the omer is counted (or before the onset of Shabbat/Yom Tov). Families or community children's programs could design and make a special tzedakah box for this purpose. Just before or after Shavuot, the money collected would be donated, individually or communally, to a local, national or international organization fighting hunger and poverty.

for a copy of this template in Word, click here


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