Love Thy Neighbor

An oft bandied phrase, one that has been ping-ponging in and out of my thoughts for weeks, months even:  Love thy neighbor.

How do I treat the woman next door who is sneaking out the back door to go cheat on her husband?  How am I supposed to love the two men at work who just announced their sexual relationship?  I believe those things are against Torah, so how am I supposed to love these people?

The attached condition, “as thyself’ also gives me pause.  How do I apply that if I don’t so much love myself?

I did an online search and looked at the context of the Law:  18 ‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.

Ah, some context is now given.  It’s not simply a willy-nilly overview of how humanity should be each others’ doormats; to the contrary, this is a simple provision that it’s not up to me to take the matter of law/justice/judgement into my own hands and apply as I desire, angrily so.

Additionally, the condition defines that I’m not to act by my own determination against the sons of my people – against my tribe, so to speak.  This certainly isn’t an obligatory statement regarding the whole of humanity.  The whole of humanity is not addressed by Torah, just the nation of the Hebrews and those who would take that citizenship.

By extension, this relieves me of an obligation to pass judgement, to call to attention a broken Law of Torah unless the violation is made by a fellow Hebrew.  I can point out the matter to the violator, or serve as a witness when it’s my fellow tribesman, but assignment of the duty of repayment and the pronouncement of recompense is not mine to dole.

This also means that I should not take vengeance or bear a grudge against myself, right?

Not as simple.

When my guilt is intertwined with that of the culture in which I’ve been raised, the separation of the threads of real guilt and perceived and societal guilt is an intricate and timely endeavor.

Not truly an easy task, that:  cleanly separating what would be expected of me should I truly live in a Torah community, and take an active part in the scales of justice that would prevail there.  In order for a release from guilt, there is a penalty to be applied.  Justice served, penance done, go on and live your life.  Complete.

In absence of that community – well, what then?

So, I continue to live the Law as best I can, in a society not understanding of that Law, not conducive to the keeping of that Law.  I keep to myself, do my best to get along with others, because I have no need and no right to judge others’ choices or to preach my beliefs.

And wonder:  will there ever be a day that I could wholly practice this simple phrase?

Where Do Kids Get Their Ideas?

I had two special guests this weekend:  my seven-year old granddaughter and her newly discovered seven-year old cousin, my great-niece.

Preparing for the weekend, I had to stretch my eating habits a bit.  I’ve found that most young girls, typical youth anyway, are not health conscious and are certainly not aware of organic foods and natural products.  They’re typically pretty picky about their food, as am I, but we see things completely different.

Assembling the donuts, the pizza plans, the sports drinks, I was contemplating how those items were going to affect my newly discovered waist line.  Ah, we all have to stretch a bet now and then, right?

So, we’re having a fabulous time, we three gals, cavorting in the backyard pool.  The girls are off to the side, having some girl-talk when I hear, “Aunt Trish – do you go to church?”

“No, but I do get together with other believers.”

“Then you don’t know God, ” she states, very matter-of-fact.

Why would a child think that I couldn’t possibly know about God if I didn’t go to church?

That sent my mind reeling.  How do I explain to a seven-year old that I follow a different God – a God who doesn’t require me to go to church, but who requires that I do get together with other believers?

I simply replied, “Oh, I know all about God.”

“But you can’t know everything,” she retorted.

True that, dear child, true that.

 

How Does the Garden Grow?

Have you ever wondered how the seven year cycle works as it applies to crops?

Initially, I thought that the point was to store up and preserve as much food as you could for the upcoming year.  Accidental happenings in the garden have me thinking differently.  I wonder if we work too hard to plant, and might rather be better off leaving the plants to grow themselves.

I’ve been building a large garden, in the hopes that it will require less work, but provide benefit to insects and soil, beauty, food, natural pest control, and long term sustenance.

Perennials, heirlooms, companion plants, natural borders, and predator bug attraction are primary components.   As is a need to relax and not be constantly pulled by things needing done in the garden.

You could say that I’ve tossed aside conventional wisdom when it comes to gardening.  There are no neatly hoed rows, no tidy sections of ground in this garden.

When the plants start to bolt, I allow several to completely go to seed.  The purpose was to harvest seeds – what happened is that many plants dropped seeds, and had seeds scattered by the winds.

The result has been that there were volunteer plants galore:   cilantro, butter-crunch lettuce, Minnesota midget cantaloupe, and rattlesnake pole beans.  Yes, beans survived a hard winter and took up residence all over the garden this year.

Tiny potatoes left in the ground have produced potato plants three years now.

This year, I’m going to take this concept farther.  I’m going to let a portion of everything in the garden go to seed, then mulch over the garden in the late fall.

We’ll see what ‘grows of itself’ next spring.

Here’s a quick garden tour:

I can tell you that this garden does not produce great quantities, so far.  I’ve harvested a lot of herbs, some lettuce, minimal peas, a decent garlic crop, and walking onions.  The pole beans are now ready to start harvest – last year I harvested until September.  Dry beans have been super productive, as have the cantaloupe.  Asparagus, grapes,  raspberries and blueberries are all new plants, so they are continuing to stake their space.

That’s my Hebrew garden.

Are you growing food this summer?  Do you incorporate new ideas into your garden?  What works best for you?

 

Stripping Away Cultural Inheritance

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