Shavuot and Land Ownership
But the message regarding the land is even more forceful. In contemporary Israel, there is a widening gap between rich and poor, much of it due to differential access to the land and its benefits. We are no longer talking of a few bushels of grain. Real estate is big business. The land has become a commodity, and is traded and speculated rather than husbanded or stewarded. Developers build up dwindling beachfront property, agricultural land is rezoned for upscale residential and commercial complexes, and massive development projects of dubious public value are thrown up. All are a source of profits for some, with many people--and the environment--losing out.
The Biblical land ethic, codified in ritual and ethics, merged the natural with the social by expressing an inseparable link between the land, its bounty, and its continued well-being, and the need for the care and support of all the people.
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