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Just Desserts



When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am YHWH your God.~ Leviticus 19:9-10


In many bird species, distinguishing between the sexes can be done by appearance. In most species of raptor, the primary distinction is weight. Female hawks typically are heavier than the males. The reason being that during nesting, she will lose weight because try as he might, the partner won’t succeed at catching double the amount of prey in order to keep them both fed. Wild animals spend a lot of their time and energy finding food and have developed multiple ways of accomplishing that. Waxwings work as a team, moving in on a food source as a team, sometimes with other species. Crows will scout out food, alerting others if it is enough to share. Vultures not only make sure that others join them but they regularly need a predator not only to kill what they will eat but to start the butchering with beaks and talons sharper than theirs. The bottom line is that cooperation is common among wild animals.


That is not to say that it is not the fittest that survive, rather that cooperation for the sake of the survival of the many is often in the interest of the one. I saw this regularly when I was involved in a program assisting homeless people. I often marveled at their stories of generosity when they had so little. I came to realize it was exactly because they knew how important acts of sharing had been to their survival that they were that much quicker to help someone else survive. We too easily miss that simple and profound truth in our highly individualistic and competitive society.


When we go out to eat and the meal is served with a reminder to save room for dessert, we are exulting in individual indulgence. Knowing that human nature is so easily manipulated by fear and greed, the ancient Hebrew law made special provisions to leave room not for extra for yourself but rather for the care of those who were struggling to care for themselves. Thus, leaving a bit of produce in the field for the gleaners was mandated on the highest authority, God’s.


Prayer: Holy provider, tweak our desires and our tastes buds so that we learn that the sweetest dessert is the just desserts of every belly filled. Amen.

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