Let My People Know

"Man's connection to the earth is an essential feature of life"


The Sages speak of the double value of working the land.

On one hand, as everyone who has ever done real farming knows, one has to become subjugated to the soil in order to be able to eat from it.

It is said in the Talmud that there is no more menial labor than that of the land; it is a total subor­dination, an enslavement.

On the other hand, man cannot feel a sense of belonging, of proprietorship, of stability, and tranquility until he returns to the soil.

His connection to the earth is an essential feature of life.

In addition to its being the place of his origin and his ultimate return, it is where he arranges and cleans out, where he selects and cultivates the good and struggles against the bad.

The earth is man's battlefield against evil.

As we know, however, this process is the bitter alternative, the only other way of fulfilling the Divine Will, necessary only after the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge was imbibed and man was cast out of the Garden.

Man's task in the Garden had been simply to disseminate the Infinite Light, so that the holy sparks that had fallen were restored.

That is, the original and preferable way to overcome evil was not to fight it but to provide a source of light.

Instead of man's engaging in the painstaking process of sorting out the inimical, the holy sparks were drawn to the great fire and absorbed in it and what was left could not survive on its own.

As in daily life, there are two ways of sorting: One is to find and throw away the waste, the other is to select and aggrandize the edible.

These are different processes halachi­cally as well as in terms of their essence.

The point is that the best way to get rid of darkness is simply to add light.

The shadows vanish of themselves, and light can be shed on any subject, in any situation, by means of love.

There is no need for struggle, contention, or confrontation.

It is perhaps the way at the level of the Messiah, the way of peace and not war.

 –Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

 From In the Beginning, “Banishment from Eden,” p. 78 by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz