Who do we have a duty to support?
(ט) וּֽבְקֻצְרְכֶם֙ אֶת־קְצִ֣יר אַרְצְכֶ֔ם לֹ֧א תְכַלֶּ֛ה פְּאַ֥ת שָׂדְךָ֖ לִקְצֹ֑ר וְלֶ֥קֶט קְצִֽירְךָ֖ לֹ֥א תְלַקֵּֽט׃ (י) וְכַרְמְךָ֙ לֹ֣א תְעוֹלֵ֔ל וּפֶ֥רֶט כַּרְמְךָ֖ לֹ֣א תְלַקֵּ֑ט לֶֽעָנִ֤י וְלַגֵּר֙ תַּעֲזֹ֣ב אֹתָ֔ם אֲנִ֖י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the corners of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am Adonai your God. [JPS translation]

Suggested Discussion Questions

1. How is the system of leaving the corners and the gleanings and the fallen food for the poor different than donating food?

2. What practices or values from these laws could we integrate into our modern lives and societies?

3. According to thise text who are we obligated to support through leaving the corners of our fields and the gleanings of our harvest?

(יג) עָנִי שֶׁהוּא קְרוֹבוֹ קֹדֶם לְכָל אָדָם. עֲנִיֵּי בֵּיתוֹ קוֹדְמִין לַעֲנִיֵּי עִירוֹ. עֲנִיֵּי עִירוֹ קוֹדְמִין לַעֲנִיֵּי עִיר אַחֶרֶת. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו יא) "לְאָחִיךָ לַעֲנִיֶּךָ וּלְאֶבְיֹנְךָ בְּאַרְצֶךָ":

A poor relative takes precedence over all men; the poor of his household before the poor of his city; the poor of his town before the poor of another town; as it says: ‘to your brother, to your poor, and to your needy in your land' (Deuteronomy 15:11)

Suggested Discussion Questions

When lending money who takes priority? What might be a good reason to focus most on the needs of those closest to you? What might be problematic about this order for prioritizing how we give?

ת"ר מפרנסים עניי נכרים עם עניי ישראל ומבקרין חולי נכרים עם חולי ישראל וקוברין מתי נכרים עם מתי ישראל מפני דרכי שלום.

Our Rabbis taught: We sustain the non-Jewish poor with the Jewish poor, visit the non-Jewish sick with the Jewish sick, and bury the non-Jewish dead with the Jewish dead, for the sake of peace. [AJWS translation]

Suggested Discussion Questions

1. What does the "for the sake of peace" mean? Can we talk about peace as positive, not as self-serving?

2. How do we reconcile this text with the common tendency to care for our own first?