06 November 2011

Joseph's 'shemitta'

Let us define chuqim umishpatim as the supporting practices and regulations that go into promoting the shemira and the assiya of a mitzvah
  • The choq defines the assiya and the mishpat defines the shemira
  • Chuqim umishpatim can thus comprehend much of what the ChZ”l call Torah sh'baal peh
  • The chuqim and mishpatim of shemitta are the surrounding assiya and shemira of the sabbatical year. 
The institutional centerpiece of those chuqim umishpatim is the retail outlet that manages the supply chain for agribusiness. The Josephite administration defined the character of that agribusiness supply chain management. The seven fat and seven lean years were a massive application of the principles of shemitta. Joseph’s brothers failed in not doing with their surplus what Joseph did with Egypt's. The two dreams of Joseph both spoke to the two aspects of the shemitta laws: the first spoke to the produce of the land; the second spoke to the power relations within the family. When Yaaqov hears the second dream he shamors the davar
The consequence of their not heeding Joseph's 'shemitta' forecasts was that the Children of Israel had to abandon their lands. 
  • Rachel's children led Israel's children out of Mesopotamia and into Egypt. 
  • Leah had einayim rakhim (Genesis 29:17) rather than a rakh lev (Deuteronomy 20:8)
The impact of the laws of shemitta are exactly the reverse of the impact of the administration of Joseph. According to the laws of shemitta, the land must stay in the hands of the general public and the power cannot become concentrated in the hands of an elite few. Indeed, the food cannot be sold during the year of famine. 
The mandate of the supply chain administrator is: 
  1. to arrange for agricultural sabbaticals; 
  2. to distribute and sell yashan food during the sabbatical years; 
  3. to feed the poor during the sabbatical years; and 
  4. to administer the JNF for keeping the land within the widely distributed ownership control of the members of the agricultural collective. 
Thus administered, shemitta is about, once every seven years, moving the locus of power away from the agricultural. It would be a proper mandate for an ecologically configured JNF. The ecological impulse puts the JNF into the social welfare business in addition to the business of planting trees and acquiring land. 
Shemitta thus forces a whole-design approach onto the matter of providing necessities to the society. Shemitta is thus fundamental and sets the tone and offers a template for institutions that provide for the general population's material needs similar to the way the mishkan is fundamental and sets the tone and offers a template for institutions that provide for the general population's spiritual needs. 
Shabbos is thus temporal and thus intangible but focused on the material while mishkan is situational and thus tangible but focused on the spiritual. 
Masseikha can mean molten but it can also mean visible. Elohei masseikha could mean visible idols, material idols rather than purely spiritual beings, hence the prohibitions in Leviticus 26:1 on pessel and matzeivah and even maskhis

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