The act of giving isn't just about acknowledging the past; it's a bridge to a brighter, shared future. * On the sixth reading of Parshas R'ei.
Imagine the moment of parting after years of being served by a loyal individual. How would you express your gratitude? A mere farewell? A pat on the back? Or something more tangible? The Chumash offers a profound lesson on this, one that resonates with the essence of humanity and gratitude.
The sixth reading in Parshas R’ei presents a mosaic of laws that guide the Israelites towards a path of moral and ethical behavior. Amid these laws, one particular directive captures the heart: the obligation to show generosity when releasing a servant from their term of service.
GENEROSITY UPON RELEASE
The Torah teaches, "When you release him from your service, do not send him away empty-handed. Provide him generously from your flock, threshing floor, and winepress. As the Lord, your God has blessed you, so shall you give him" (Deuteronomy 15:13-14). So, what does this passage ask of us?
On a surface level, it is clear: upon the conclusion of a servant's term, the owner isn't just to say goodbye. The servant must be given resources, a token of appreciation for their dedicated service over the years. Think of it as the ancient version of a retirement bonus or a golden handshake.
Rashi, the venerated medieval Jewish commentator, elucidates, "You shall provide for him – even a hundred times" (Rashi on Deuteronomy 15:14), emphasizing the depth of generosity that one must show, reflecting on the bounties one has received from God.
The Sefer HaChinuch adds another layer, explaining, "This commandment contains an aspect of compassion... to ensure he is not distressed when he leaves his master’s house" (Mitzvah 482). It's not just about gratitude but about ensuring the servant starts the next chapter of their life on a strong footing, echoing the Chumash's values of compassion and community responsibility.
Releasing someone who has served us isn't a mere administrative act. It's a moment of profound human connection, acknowledgment, and forward-looking generosity. The act of giving isn't just about acknowledging the past; it's a bridge to a brighter, shared future.