Food for Peace

Parshas Bechukosai

If, we toil in Torah and keep Hashem’s mitzvahs, we are assured all sorts of blessings. We will have prosperity, peace, military prowess, closeness with Hashem etc…

If we – Heaven forefend – fail to toil in Torah, the degeneration will bring terrible curses in its wake forcing the people to repentance.

Question

The sequence of the blessings requires elucidation. Below is a partial list to bring out the point of difficulty:

  1. Food – Rains will come in the correct times, food will be plentiful we will eat and be satiated.
  2. Peace – We will have peace from wild animals and invading armies, and military security.
  3. Food – There will be so much food  from previous years that the old preserved foods will be preferable to the new crops.
  4. Divine Presence – A Sanctuary will be built and G-d will be close.

One would expect that the two blessings related to food would be situated together. Why  split them apart?

Answer

The blessing for food has two components. Firstly provisions are a necessary ingredient for human continued existence. Secondly food, in abundance is an indication of prosperity and independence. We can now begin to analyze the order of the blessings.

These blessings are on either side of peace. One is a prerequisite for peace, while the other is useless without peace.

Food is a precondition for Shalom. If people are hungry and poverty is rampant, their thoughts are turned towards survival. The focus is about the self, not developing peace and thinking about others.

When Pharaoh dreamt about the seven fat cows, the cows besides for looking healthy they had a good appearance. Rashi comments that this was to symbolize the plenty a time when people appear good to one another and are not resentful of their friends. This reinforces the concept that peace and harmony are virtually unattainable without food.

The blessing for food that is mentioned after peace, is referring to wealth and affluence. When toiling in Torah Hashem promises not only satiation but riches and prosperity.  This abundance is not a requirement in order to attain peace, and the blessing for peace supersedes riches and is thus mentioned beforehand.

Lesson

When trying to promote peace, the solution will be easier if the parties are not poverty stricken.

Story

Reb David Biderman (1746-1814) known as R’ Dovid of Lelov was a proprietor of a general store, which provided his living. At one point he decided to terminate this business.

“Rebbe, your business was doing well – why have you closed it?” asked a chossid of Reb David.

“When I see people entering my competitors’ markets, I am filled with joy.” explained Reb David. “I am concerned that when the other owners see customers buying from me they are upset. I do not want to be the cause of another Jew’s pain.”

Weekly Halachah

There is a permitted method of purchasing basic needs, such as food, on Shabbos. Briefly, this requires that no mention be made of payment or buying and selling. (Shulchan Aruch 323)

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