Making Space for New Grain

Behukkotai By :  Ofra Arieli Backenroth Associate Dean of The Davidson School and Assistant Professor of Jewish Education Posted On Jun 4, 2016 / 5776 | דבר אחר | A Different Perspective


From the beginning, 
recreate your world in the morning
the earth, the plants and all the lights
and then from dust, in the likeness of humans
wake up tomorrow morning
and start from the beginning.

—Naomi Shemer, “Haggigah Nigmeret” (“The Party Is Over”)

Naomi Shemer, one of the most famous songwriters and performers in Israel, is known for her thoughtful songs that touch upon universal themes. In this song, she speaks about the need for rejuvenation. Every morning is an opportunity for a new experience. As successful as our days might be, there is always a need to go back to the beginning and start again.

The opening passage of Behukkotai speaks of the blessings that will come to the people of Israel if they follow God’s laws. It also notes the need to make space for the new, even though the old is still good: Leviticus 26:10 states, “You shall eat old grain long stored, and you shall have to clear out the old to make room for the new” (W. G. Plaut translation). The verse might be an allusion to the preceding chapter, in which God promises to provide Israel sufficient grain; however it also reminds us of the truth that, at a certain time, the old needs to make room for the new.

Shemer’s song encourages us not to hold on to the past, even though we cherish it. In the morning, we need to get up and begin from Bereishit—from the beginning.