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Tomorrow's Menu

05/19/2022 12:56:50 PM

May19

During the early stages of the pandemic, I remember seeing images of grocery store shelves in other countries that were picked bare. The image prompted me to head to my grocery store and stock up on some of the shelf-stable staples so that my food supply wouldn’t be disrupted. And while it is true that over the course of the months to follow there were weeks that I found it hard to find flour, yeast, some canned goods, and some other random items, the truth is that a severe stock shortage of food didn’t really materialize in our backyard. If they didn’t have something at one grocery store, you usually could find it at the second, or third you visited. Toilet paper supplies on the other hand… And while I joke about toilet paper, delays in supply chains and broken economies have led to delays in medications and medical equipment that are still ongoing. The pandemic, and conflict abroad has made me a little more skittish about my own food supply, and I find myself not taking access to food for granted. 

In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Behar, the Israelites are commanded that when they enter the Promised Land, they are to leave their fields fallow every seventh year.  As you can imagine, not being in control of your plantings and harvests for a year means that you forgo dominion over your own source of sustenance. The commandment is interwoven with themes of divine protection, and the shmitah year becomes a symbol for appreciating the land and God’s blessings of bounty. Just like the shock to supply chains in our own time reminds us how uncertain tomorrow’s wheat supply might be, this forced rest of the land reminds people not to take their food security for granted. 

Unfortunately, we don’t have to look too far down the street to find people who already know not to take their next meal for granted; they didn’t need a pandemic as a somber reminder. Some of our neighbors already know that having access to food is a blessing and something not to take for granted. The presumption that food will be available when you need it is indeed a privileged experience, and perhaps might not be true tomorrow. As is the case with many of the elements of life that we believe are under our dominion, we are truly reliant on forces outside our individual control. Perhaps this perspective will bring us a little more humility and appreciation for all the other things that tend to be going our way.

Shabbat Shalom

Fri, December 2 2022 8 Kislev 5783