This week’s Middat HaShavuah, derived from the Torah portion Parshat Beshalach, emphasizes the principle of taking only what you need.

Parshah: בְּשַׁלַּח

Key Verse: לִקְטוּ מִמֶּנּוּ, אִישׁ לְפִי אָכְלוֹ

שמות ט״ז:ט״ז

Middah: Take only what you need

The context for this Middat HaShavuah is drawn from the narrative in the Parsha, recounting B’nai Yisrael’s experience with the manna that sustained them in the desert. When God provided the manna, the instruction was clear: gather only what you need for yourself and your family. Those who collected excess and attempted to hoard found that it spoiled overnight.

One interpretation of this Middah emphasizes the importance of avoiding selfishness or greed—taking only what is genuinely needed. However, another perspective ties this principle to this week’s celebration of Tu Bishvat.

Since the beginning of time, humanity has borne the responsibility of being stewards of the Earth. As stated in Sefer Beresheet:

וַיִּקַּ֛ח יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֑ם וַיַּנִּחֵ֣הוּ בְגַן־עֵ֔דֶן לְעבְדָ֖הּ וּלְשׁמְרָֽהּ׃

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

(Genesis 2:15)

Being caretakers of our Earth entails refraining from abusing, exploiting, or misusing its resources. The concept involves a commitment to not take undue advantage of the planet’s beauty and natural abundance. Practicing environmental stewardship aligns with the idea of being mindful, resourceful, and, fundamentally, taking only what is needed.

While Tu Bishvat may be considered a minor holiday in the Jewish tradition it holds special significance at The Toronto Heschel School. The school’s steadfast commitment to environmental consciousness and awareness makes Tu Bishvat a major holiday, emphasizing the importance of conservation, mindfulness, respect for the Earth, and the core principle of taking only what is needed.

Shabbat Shalom U’Mevorach,

Moreh Alan