Friday, April 26, 2013

The Gardening Bug

               My patience has been sorely lacking of late and if I have offended you in any way please know that if you give me the opportunity to apologize I will.  This impatience found its way into a social gathering I attended recently.  I received an email about a group that gets together once a month for people who are more than casually interested in advocating for the environment.  Someone noticed my blog which has the very optimistic and amusing title, the Recyclable Rechargeable Rabbi Roger.  Much of my impatience stemmed from wanting a better forum for meeting people , it was loud and echoey and after 45 minutes I was done.  I met some nice people, I may go back, but we’ll see. 
                One person I didn’t meet there but whose name came up was Jerry Connor.  He is hosting a website called that has the audacious goal of helping plant 1,000 gardens in the Wyoming Valley.  I met him in the waiting area where our girls go to ballet at Arts Youniverse with Gina.  He’s quite a character with a heart of gold.  His passion reignited my own interest in gardening and I hope to be able to plant one in my own backyard.   To be truthful, I have always been interested in gardening, but have never worked one, so this will be a very new endeavor.   I am hopeful that I will be successful but I know next to nothing about it.  As a result, I purchased The Idiot’s Guide to Vegetable Gardening which is proving to be a wealth of information.  After about 50 pages or so, I think I might need the super dummies guide to get it right.  That being said, our Torah portion this week, Emor, reiterates the command for farmers to leave the corners of the field and the gleanings for the poor and the stranger. 
                So many of us aren’t farmers these days that we have often interpreted this verse metaphorically, leaving the corners and gleanings of our harvest came to mean taking a percentage of our salaries as tzedakah or charity for the less fortunate.  I am all for these types of interpretations as long as they motivate us to action.  As our times and circumstances shift, I am of the belief that our Scriptures can offer us a renewed interpretation for our times.  
               What if we take this verse in Leviticus, When you harvest your field, to be an injunction for us, a command.  Allow our Torah to offer us some advice on how we might begin this spring with a garden of our own?!  
              I’ll tell you right now, I’m not convinced about how easy it is to start a garden, but I’m going to give it a shot and I’ll make the additional promise that if you are going to start your own garden and you have some doubts about starting it, let’s do it together; call me, and I’ll come and help and so will Ziva.  Or if you want someone with a whole lot more experience, than check out Jerry’s website, he offers to help with a modest sized garden which is a great way to begin. 
                As environmentally conscious as I might be, I have never gotten very much into the concept of Earth Day.  The idea that we would celebrate our connection to the land once a year seems preposterous to me.  In our psalms we read that, “The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”   Everyone, everywhere should have daily reminders of our connection to the land and the fact that “we are but squatters in God’s humble abode.” 
                A garden, big or small, can be that welcome daily reminder.   A reminder of our connection to the land, a reminder of the fragile balance between land, sun, water and harvest and that knowledge is one of the most important substances to strengthen that fragility.  A reminder to leave off the corners  and gleanings of your harvest to the poor and the stranger so that they too may benefit from your bounty and share in your peace of Paradise.