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We don’t get everything we want exactly when we want it. Everything in the right time. 

By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

This week’s Torah reading is the double portion of “Acharei Mot-Kedoshim” (Leviticus 16:1–20:27), and it is packed with dozens of mitzvahs (Torah commandments). One  is the mitzvah of “orlah.”

As the verse says: “When you come to the Land and plant any food tree, you shall treat its fruit as orlah; for three years it shall be orlah to you, they shall not be eaten.” [Lev. 19:23]

In other words, fruits may not be eaten until the tree is at least three years old. These forbidden fruits, those from a tree under three years old, are known as “orlah.”

A number of interpretations are given for this curious commandment. One is that in biblical times, the first fruits were promptly offered as idolatrous sacrifices. As such, in order to distance ourselves from idolatry, we don’t make use of fruits until they are at least three years old.

But another interpretation offered, which is the one I want to focus on, is based on the fact that immediately following the prohibition of Orlah is another somewhat mysterious prohibition of “do not eat on the blood.” There are actually a number of different laws that are derived from this verse. One of them is the law that we are not allowed to eat the meat of an animal until its blood has been completely drained.

What is the connection between the laws of Orlah and the law of the blood? Why are they stated back to back?

It is explained that both mitzvot, the mitzvah of Orlah and the mitzvah of draining the blood from an animal before eating its meat, teaches us something that is very important in life: patience. In today’s fast-paced world, patience is the last of character traits that people display. We are in the ‘now’ generation. There is no waiting. Everything is microwaved, everything is express, and everything is instant.

There are other fruits to eat; you don’t have to eat these new ones immediately. Let them sit for three years. Wait the extra amount of time needed to properly prepare the meat before eating it. You don’t need to consume it immediately after slaughter. Slow down.

There are many more applications of these ideas today that need immediate implementation: Don’t eat so fast; we must remember to chew our food. Let your clothes fully dry before wearing them. Let your food properly finish cooking or baking before eating it. Unwind a bit before heading to bed each night. We’ve completely lost touch with serenity, patience and pause.

This is a very important lesson we derive from orlah and blood. We must slow down. We don’t get everything we want exactly when we want it. Everything in the right time.

For more of Rabbi Enkin’s Torah insights on this week’s double portion, click below: