Food Justice

 

-------- EMMANUEL LEVINAS, “NINE TALMUDIC READINGS: SAYING GRACE IN THE THIRD WORLD, P. 132 ------------------------------------------------- Original But how will saying grace create champions of the good cause? It is obvious that what is suggested to us here are peaceful struggles: the problem of a hungry world can be resolved only if the food of the owners and those who are provided for ceases to appear to them as inalienable property, but is recognized as a gift they have received for which thanks must be given and to which others have a right. Scarcity is a social and moral problem and not exclusively an economic one. That is what our text reminds us of, in old wives’ tales. And now we can understand that this internal and pacific war is to be waged not only by me, who in saying grace gives up possession, but also by those who answer “Amen”. A community must follow the individuals who take the initiative of renouncing their rights so that the hungry can eat. [Translated from French by Annette Aronowicz] ....  


-------- DEUTERONOMY 8:7-10 --------------------------------------------------

ז כִּי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, מְבִיאֲךָ אֶל-אֶרֶץ טוֹבָה: אֶרֶץ, נַחֲלֵי מָיִם--עֲיָנֹת וּתְהֹמֹת, יֹצְאִים בַּבִּקְעָה וּבָהָר. ח אֶרֶץ חִטָּה וּשְׂעֹרָה, וְגֶפֶן וּתְאֵנָה וְרִמּוֹן; אֶרֶץ-זֵית שֶׁמֶן, וּדְבָשׁ. ט אֶרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר לֹא בְמִסְכֵּנֻת תֹּאכַל-בָּהּ לֶחֶם--לֹא-תֶחְסַר כֹּל, בָּהּ; אֶרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אֲבָנֶיהָ בַרְזֶל, וּמֵהֲרָרֶיהָ תַּחְצֹב נְחֹשֶׁת. י וְאָכַלְתָּ, וְשָׂבָעְתָּ--וּבֵרַכְתָּ אֶת-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, עַל-הָאָרֶץ הַטֹּבָה אֲשֶׁר נָתַן-לָךְ. 

7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams and springs and fountains issuing from plain and hill; 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and [date] honey; 9 a land where you may eat bread without scarceness, where you will lack nothing; a land whose rocks are iron and from whose hills you can mine bronze. 10 When you have eaten and you are satisfied, give thanks to the Lord your God for the good land which God has given you. [translation by Hazon] ....  


-------- LEVITICUS RABBAH, 3:1 -----------------------------------------------

 

טוב מי שיש לו גינה ומזבלה ומעדרה ומתפרנס ממנה ממי שהוא נוטל גנות של אחרים במחצה במתלא אמרין דאגר גינה אכל צפרין דאגר גינין צפרין אכלין ליה ....  

A person who has a vegetable garden; who fertilizes it, tills it, and sustains themselves from it, is better off than a person who rents as a sharecropper. As the proverb says, “One who rents one patch eats birds, one who rents many patches – birds eat him.” [Translation by AJWS] 


-------- RASHI ON BABYLONIAN TALMUD, MEGILLAH 17B ----------------------------

 רש"י מסכת מגילה דף יז עמוד ב שבור זרוע רשע - אלו המייקרין את התבואה ומפקיעין את השער, וממאי דבמפקיעי שערים כתיב - דכתיב בההיא פרשתא יארב במסתר כאריה בסוכו יארוב לחטוף עני וכי הליסטים אורב את העני והלא את העשיר הוא אורב אלא במפקיעי שערים הכתוב מדבר, שרוב דעתם לעניים הוא, וקא בעי דוד רחמי עלה דמילתא: שבור זרוע רשע ותן שובע בעולם, ובכך זרועו שבור. ....  

"Break the arm of the evil person": These are the ones who make grain dear and bring up the standard price. And how do we know (that this is what the Talmud is referring to)? For it is said in that chapter of Psalms: “He lieth in wait in a secret place as a lion in his lair, he lieth in wait to catch the poor” And do the robbers ambush the poor? Do they not ambush the rich? But what we are talking about here is the speculator who raise the price, for their mind is mostly on the poor. And David prayed for mercy about this, “Break the arm of the evil person”, and let there be satiety in the world, and it that way (the evil person’s) arm will be broken


-------- MISHNAH DEMAI 3:1 ---------------------------------------------------

מאכילין את העניים דמאי ואת האכסני' דמאי רבן גמליאל היה מאכיל את פועליו דמאי גבאי צדקה בית שמאי אומרים נותנין את המעושר לשאינו מעשר ואת שאינו מעושר למעשר נמצאו כל האדם אוכלין מתוקן וחכמים אומרים גובין סתם ומחלקין סתם והרוצה לתקן יתקן ....  

One may give demai (questionably tithed) [produce] for food to the poor and to passing troops (wayfarers). Rabban Gamliel used to give demai for food to his workmen. As for collectors of charity, Beit Shammai say: They should give tithed [produce] to persons who do not tithe and untithed [produce] to persons who do tithe. It will thus result that everyone will be eating [produce] that has been set right. But the Sages say: They may collect indeterminately and distribute indeterminately, and whoever [of the recipients] wishes to set right (i.e., tithe) [his portion] may do so. [trans. Soncino with notes in parentheses] 


-------- BABYLONIAN TALMUD, BRACHOT 40A --------------------------------------

דאמר רב יהודה אמר רב אסור לאדם שיאכל קודם שיתן מאכל לבהמתו שנאמר +דברים י"א+ ונתתי עשב בשדך לבהמתך והדר ואכלת ושבעת ....  

Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav: It is forbidden to eat before feeding one's animal, as it says, "I will give grass in thy fields for thy cattle, and then, thou shalt eat and be satisfied" (Deuteronomy 11). [translation by Soncino, edited for accessibility and gender neutrality] 


-------- RAMBAM, GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED PART 3 48:3 -------------------------

 וכן אסר לשחוט אותו ואת בנו ביום אחד, להשמר ולהרחיק לשחוט משניהם הבן לעיני האם, כי צער בעלי חיים בזה גדול מאד, אין הפרש בין צער האדם עליו וצער שאר ב"ח, ....  

It is prohibited to kill an animal with its young on the same day (Lev. 22: 28), in order that people should be restrained and prevented from killing the two together in such a manner that the young is slain in the sight of the mother; for the pain of the animals under such circumstances is very great. There is no difference in this case between the pain of humans and the pain of other living beings..." [AJWS translation]


-------- RAMBAM MISHNAH TORAH MELAKHIM 6:10 ----------------------------------

ולא האילנות בלבד, אלא כל המשבר כלים, וקורע בגדים, והורס בנין, וסותם מעין, ומאבד מאכלות דרך השחתה, עובר בלא תשחית. ....  

And not only [does bal taschit apply] to trees; rather, anyone who destroys dishes, or tears clothes, or demolishes a building, or stops up a spring, or destroys food in anger-- [that person] transgresses the law of bal taschit. 


-------- LEVITICUS 25: 1-7 ---------------------------------------------------

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה בְּהַר סִינַי לֵאמֹר׃ דַּבֵּר אֶל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם כִּי תָבֹאוּ אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי נֹתֵן לָכֶם וְשָׁבְתָה הָאָרֶץ שַׁבָּת לַיהוָה׃ שֵׁשׁ שָׁנִים תִּזְרַע שָׂדֶךָ וְשֵׁשׁ שָׁנִים תִּזְמֹר כַּרְמֶךָ וְאָסַפְתָּ אֶת־תְּבוּאָתָהּ׃ וּבַשָּׁנָה הַשְּׁבִיעִת שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתֹון יִהְיֶה לָאָרֶץ שַׁבָּת לַיהוָה שָׂדְךָ לֹא תִזְרָע וְכַרְמְךָ לֹא תִזְמֹר׃ אֵת סְפִיחַ קְצִירְךָ לֹא תִקְצֹור וְאֶת־עִנְּבֵי נְזִירֶךָ לֹא תִבְצֹר שְׁנַת שַׁבָּתֹון יִהְיֶה לָאָרֶץ׃ וְהָיְתָה שַׁבַּת הָאָרֶץ לָכֶם לְאָכְלָה לְךָ וּלְעַבְדְּךָ וְלַאֲמָתֶךָ וְלִשְׂכִירְךָ וּלְתֹושָׁבְךָ הַגָּרִים עִמָּךְ׃ וְלִבְהֶמְתְּךָ וְלַחַיָּה אֲשֶׁר בְּאַרְצֶךָ תִּהְיֶה כָל־תְּבוּאָתָהּ לֶאֱכֹל׃ ....  

The LORD then spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a sabbath to the LORD. ‘Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the LORD; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard. ‘Your harvest’s aftergrowth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a sabbatical year. ‘All of you shall have the sabbath products of the land for food; yourself, and your male and female slaves, and your hired man and your foreign resident, those who live as aliens with you. ‘Even your cattle and the animals that are in your land shall have all its crops to eat. [translation from New American Standard Bible]