This week’s Middat HaShavuah, taken from this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Beshalach, instructs us to take only what we need.

Parshah: בְּשַׁלַּח  

Key Verse: לִקְטוּ מִמֶּנּוּ, אִישׁ לְפִי אָכְלוֹ 

שמות טז:טז

Middah: Take only what you need

The context for this week’s Middat HaShavuah is from the narrative in the Parsha concerning B’nai Yisrael and the manna that sustained them while in the desert. When God sent the manna, God commanded B’nai Yisrael to collect only enough for themselves and for their families. Those who collected extra, and tried to store it, found that it rotted overnight.

That is certainly one way to understand the Middah, that we should not be selfish or avaricious (someone who takes more than what he or she needs). However another way to understand the Middah connects us to the holiday coming up next week, namely, Tu Bishvat.

From the very beginning of time, humankind has had a responsibility to be the caretakers of our world. In Sefer Beresheet, it says:

וַיִּקַּ֛ח יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֑ם וַיַּנִּחֵ֣הוּ בְגַן־עֵ֔דֶן לְעׇבְדָ֖הּ וּלְשׇׁמְרָֽהּ׃

“Adonai G-d took the earthling and set it in the garden of Eden, to work it and to watch it.”

(Genesis 2:15)

To be caretakers of our world means that we do not abuse, exploit or misuse our world. The idea of being a caretaker of our world means not taking advantage of its beauty and natural resources. One way we can do that is by being mindful and resourceful and to take only what we need.

While Tu Bishvat may be considered a minor holiday for some, (by the way, there is the old joke that there are no minor or major holidays in the Jewish tradition, just holidays that use more or less tinfoil) Tu Bishvat is a major holiday at The Toronto Heschel School because of our school’s commitment from its inception to be environmentally conscious and aware. And to be environmentally conscious and aware means to conserve, to be mindful and respectful of our world, and to be resourceful – namely, to take only what you need from our world.

I am personally so excited to celebrate my first Tu Bishvat at The Toronto Heschel School and to witness first hand how we apply these important Middot, such as to take only what we need, to our daily lives. Please see the emails from your child/ren’s teacher(s) so they all come prepared on Monday for an amazing day of learning, celebrating, and growing together! 

Shabbat Shalom U’Mevorach,

Moreh Alan