Guest post at God's Politics
Day 26 of the Omer: humility in endurance

This week's portion: Caretaker (Behar)



Six days you may visit
to pick sugar snap peas

to burnish your fingers
with basil and dill

to strip string beans
from their leggy bushes

and choose radishes
to stash in your bag.

But on the seventh
let the land rest:

the chattering chickens
and drowsy sunflowers

the garlic hanging
fragrant in the rafters

even the earthworms
ineffable, underground.

Keep them in trust
and let them keep you.

This week's portion, Behar, contains injunctions to let the land rest one day out of seven and one year out of seven, and after seven cycles of seven years to declare yovel (Jubilee), releasing all debts and returning land to its original owners. In a deep sense, the Torah reminds us this week that we never truly "own" land, we only borrow it from its Creator for a time. Opinions differ on the question of whether the yovel a) ever actually happened and b) is even possible in our imperfect world, but even if it's just an instance of Biblical utopianism it's a powerful teaching.

The verses about letting the land rest reminded me of Caretaker Farm, the CSA to which Ethan and I have belonged for years. So that's where this week's poem went: not to the grand Jubilee, but to the small cycle of work and rest in which each of us can take part. As usual, if you can't see the audio player embedded at the top of this post or if you'd like to hang on to the recording, you can download caretaker.mp3.

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