Kedoshim, the parsha before Emor, is reminiscent of Mishpatim, which comes shortly after the Israelites have left Egypt, in that it delivers a whole raft of instructions and laws, all aimed at the creation of a just society and of a holy people. One of the laws in Kedoshim is as follows:
When you reap your land’s harvest, do not completely harvest the ends of your fields. (Also) do not pick up individual stalks (that have fallen). (Furthermore) do not pick the incompletely formed grape clusters in your vineyards. (Also) do not pick up the individual (fallen) grapes in your vineyards. (All the above) must be left for the poor and the stranger.
Now, if it were not for this law, we would have no Magen Davids today. We might have someone else’s magen, but not David’s. My reason for this outrageous affirmation is this. When Ruth, the young Moabite widow, came to the land of Israel, her mother-in-law, Naomi, sent her out to follow the threshers working on the harvest of the noble Boaz. Now, Boaz, a righteous and kindly man, mindful of the law quoted above, told his workers to drop enough ears of corn for Ruth to gather her own plentiful harvest. This kindness convinced Naomi that it was safe to tell Ruth to sleep at the foot of Boaz’s bed. Boaz learned of Ruth’s goodness both from her mother-in-law and from observing her and he decided to marry her, provided she were not claimed by her brother-in-law, according to levirate custom. And the rest is history, for David was Ruth and Boaz’s great-grandson.
Of course, this is not a watertight case. There are many contributory factors that combine to forge our destiny, just as there are many ingredients, skilful measurements, cuttings, stirrings and other culinary acts to make a good cholent. And David might have been made in some other way. However, it is clear that laws and customs that encourage justice and kindness will almost certainly sooner or later produce something good, like a great king, for example.
But I have gone on too long about last week’s parsha. This week is Emor, full of priestly laws, festivals and one or two other things. There is treat in store, for, starting at 10:30, Adam Feldman will be leading the service and Sharim Atilano will be delivering the derasha.