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14/09/2021 06:18:13 PM


Our household is enjoying a second season of pandemic gardening. Last summer, like many others with the blessing of a yard, we dug up a modest rectangle and planted a vegetable garden.

This summer’s crop is almost at an end, but the bounty of tomatoes is dotting my diet with red, orange and green deliciousness. My neighbours, too, are reaping the benefits, especially the happy profusion of sweet little cherry tomatoes. There have already been several “flash gift” posts to my neighbourhood Buy Nothing Group for same day porch pick-up of small cherry or fat green or ripening red and orange tomatoes. And for a pre-pre-fast dinner, I’ll be putting to use my Buy Nothing Group-acquired corn meal to try out a Fried Green Tomato recipe.

The link between this neighbourhood sharing and the garden and the pandemic provokes many thoughts and feelings in me this fall festival season of 5782/2021. So many of us, in so many moments, have been burdened, challenged, pressured, saddened and more these past 18 months, for solid reasons. At the same time, we have recognized and even cherished some of the unexpected gifts. I wonder how many of them we will be able to nurture as winter approaches and our new year unfolds.

What I intend to nurture is this contemporary way of practicing “leaving the corners” of the field. The mitzvah described in Leviticus 19:9-10 – to not reap to the edges one’s field, but to leave the corners and the fallen fruit for the poor and for those who live among you – resonates powerfully with the gardening and sharing I’ve been experiencing.

I’ve come to recognize, with awe, how little these “fruits” belong to me. They have flourished because wise folks know how to nurture and prepare the seeds; because the sun and soil and water all worked despite my awkward interventions, including bouts of under-watering, over-watering, and under-weeding (which I extravagantly call benign neglect); because God/godding.

God/godding is also richly present in the neighbours I am slowly meeting, as we have been able to connect on each other’s porches or lawns or apartment lobbies or through each other’s posts on our social media group pages. Folks ask for and offer simple and small as well as large and valuable things. Just so, the gleanings are shared.

It is taught that the gates of teshuvah, the pathway of renewal and repair, do not shut tight at the end of Yom Kippur, but remain open – some say through to the end of the Sukkot harvest festival on Shemini Atzeret, some say to any heartfelt penitence year-round. The pathway of connecting to neighbours by giving and receiving, by honouring the grace of gardens large and small, and extending this into a year-round practice is a gift of this year I plan to cultivate.

Gmar hatima tova – to a meaningful conclusion of your Yom Kippur observances, and Hag Sukkot Sameah – may you reap the joys of the festival.

Rabbi Liz

Fri, 23 February 2024