The Jewish Chronicle - - Judaism - RABBI DR DEB­O­RAH KAHN-HAR­RIS

“On that same day, when they ate of the pro­duce of the land, the manna ceased” Joshua 5: 12

FROM the mo­ment Ja­cob sent his sons to Egypt, the story of the Is­raelites could well be read as the story of food. In Canaan there was famine; in Egypt, plenty. Stay­ing in Egypt was about food – fer­tile land in Goshen fed the peo­ple for more than 400 years. Its price was servi­tude to the Egyp­tian Pharaoh.

On the verge of the Is­raelites’ de­par­ture from Egypt, they feasted on the lamb that lent them pro­tec­tion from the final plague. And once they had left Egypt, food se­cu­rity reared its head again. Were they to be left to starve in the desert? No, God stepped in to en­sure the Is­raelites’ food sup­ply. Ev­ery day of their 40 years of wan­der­ing, they ate manna.

Then, on their first Pe­sach in the land, it all stops. No more food se­cu­rity. They must live off the pro­duce of the land where their an­ces­tors once faced famine.

The com­men­ta­tors de­bate about when they stop eat­ing manna, though most agree it is not on erev Pe­sach, but on the first day. On first full day Pe­sach, the manna is fin­ished and the Is­raelites are left to rely on their own ca­pa­bil­i­ties as a set­tled agrar­ian peo­ple. Food se­cu­rity is no longer some­one else’s re­spon­si­bil­ity nor is it easy to achieve. Farm­ing is hard work, but pro­duc­ing their own food is what the free­dom that Pe­sach rep­re­sents is re­ally all about.

In our own world where food se­cu­rity is far from se­cure for much of our world’s in­hab­i­tants, food pro­duc­tion is still a core is­sue we all face. Grow­ing our own food is both a chal­lenge and an op­por­tu­nity.

This Pe­sach con­sider what it might be like if next year’s Seder re­quired us to grow all the food on the ta­ble our­selves. What might next year’s Seder look like then?

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