It’s official, Camp Sprout Lake in changing the world through gardening. Today, the campers had a crash course in Rambam’s levels of Tzedakah, Pe’ah— a Jewish agricultural law regarding mandating the corners are the fields are left for the poor— and the pandemic of hunger plaguing the world. Campers began the activity not understanding the importance of justice, not willing to share their privileged lives in the form of tzedekah, or indifferent to it all. They left running up to other friends telling them we are all able to change the world with our own two hands.
Today we did not just discuss ideas; rather, we planned out our giving. The children, with no prodding from myself, decided to donate eighty percent of our yields to a food pantry in the area. After the summer ends, employees of the pantry will continue to pick fruits and vegetables to ensure that nothing goes to waste. Mishneh Pe’ah tells us that the minimum amount of land given to pe’ah is .0167 percent. These campers, ages 7-13 have chosen to donate 479 times more than the minimum decreed by halacha. Why? Are these exceptionally generous children? Maybe, but I don’t think so. I think these children have not been indoctrinated into our culture of sinat chinam, baseless hatred.
As the holiday of Tisha B’av approaches, we are never more reminded against the evils of baseless hatred. The Talmud tells us in Gittin 56a that the Second Temple was destroyed due Kamsa and Bar Kamsa, baseless hatred that resulted in untold death, sorrow and pain. In our world, we are socialized to distance ourselves from those who are different to us, to those we do not know, to those we do not stand to gain from. As Tisha B’av nears, let us strive to be more like these campers, open hearted, willing to give from their toils, able to love baselessly, striving to create a better world.