Inside View Jan/Feb 2022
In the book of Ruth, we see the practice of gleaning in action. Boaz first sees Ruth when she goes to his field to glean grain for herself and her mother-in-law, Naomi (Ruth 2), who are both widows. And we know how events play out: from gleaning to love to a happy ending. The story of Ruth is one of the great love stories in the Bible and teaches us about mercy, grace, and redemption.
God commanded gleaning in the Law (Lev. 19:9–10; 23:22; Dt. 24:19–22). He ordered the Israelites to leave the corners of their fields unharvested so the poor and strangers in the land could glean there. The workers were not to pick up any sheaves left behind. When shaking olive trees to harvest olives, any olives remaining on the trees were to be left for the needy. Similarly, grapes that fell to the ground were to be left for the poor.
This was God’s welfare system. It provided for those who couldn’t work, such as the widows, fatherless, and strangers; and God promised to bless the work of the hands of those who obeyed this command (Dt. 24:19).
There is an amazing organization in Israel today that helps feed the needy: Leket Israel, a nonprofit charity. Leket is the Hebrew word for “gleaning,” and Leket Israel has become the national food bank for the impoverished in the Jewish state. Following the principles of gleaning in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, it rescues healthy surplus food that would otherwise be discarded.
Started in 2003, Leket Israel has grown to 105 employees and utilizes 15,000 volunteers annually. The logistics include the daunting job of storing and packaging food for distribution.
Leket rescues 20,000 tons of fruits and vegetables and 2.4 million cooked meals each year. It adheres to the highest food-safety regulations to sort the food and redistribute it to a quarter of a million Israelis each week throughout Israel.
As in the days of Ruth, those in need in Israel are being fed by a portion of the crops grown in the land flowing with milk and honey (Ex. 3:8). Even though Leket uses thousands of volunteers, staffing and distribution cost money.
Leket Israel is one of several humanitarian organizations that receives grants from The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry’s Israel Relief Fund. Many of you give to the Israel Relief Fund to bless those in need. Our relief fund is one of the ways to “comfort, yes comfort [God’s] people” (Isa. 40:1).
Jesus told His disciples He will return to Earth one day and judge the nations for the way they treated His brothers, and He listed several criteria by which He will do so. One of them is “For I was hungry and you gave Me food” (Mt. 25:35). When we support Leket Israel, we are giving food to Jesus’ brethren.
The Israel Relief Fund is a wonderful way we can bless the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God promises He will bless those who bless them (Gen. 12:3); and as beneficiaries of God’s grace through His Son, we are indeed blessed beyond measure!