Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Mishpatim
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And the Poor of Your Nation Shall Eat It


Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon

In parashat Mishpatim the Torah explains that the goal of the Sabbatical Year (Shemitta) is, "And the poor of your nation shall eat of it".

However, in parashat Behar the Torah emphasizes that everyone is able to eat, "And the Sabbath of the Land is for you to eat". It seems, simply, parashat Mishpatim emphasizes the communal, social aspect, while parashat Behar emphasizes the spiritual aspect, "Shabbat for Hashem". In spite of this, is the intent of the Torah at the end of the day is that everyone should be able to enjoy nourishment, or just the impoverished?

In addition, we need to explain how, after abandoning the field, one may eat of its fruits.

Chazal explain it is permissible for everyone to eat after they have been declared ownerless (hefkir) the field (and there is a dispute if the fruit that were not declared ownerless are permissible for all to eat). Furthermore, Chazal write that it is permissible for an individual to pick a small amount, for his needs at home.

Rav Blumensweig explains the matter as such: After one has declared all his fields ownerless, after he has also become "poor" relative to this field, it is permissible for him to eat of it. Meaning, "and the poor of your nation shall eat of it" or, "and the Sabbatical of the Land should be for you to eat" are actually overlapping concepts. After you understand that the things are not yours, after you understand that you, too are like an "impoverished" person and that everything is really the Master of the World’s, it is permissible for you to eat, too!
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