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Literature and Poetry/

Iris Ben Zvi

Prayer of the Farmer on Shavuot

June 8, 2011

On Shavuot I swore to my land

To till it and preserve it

Know it

And cherish it


My real land –

The soil under my feet,

The soil of my garden,

The land of my fields,

The land of my scenery,

The land of my open space


That I shall not destroy,

That I shall not harm,

I swore on Shavuot –

To know it

And cherish it

To till it

And preserve it


And know it –

Surely it is mother to all that lives

And the basis of all aspects of my life

The roots of my existence

In which they are planted,

From which the

Modest plants drink

Those that give the world oxygen to breathe

And create an entire complex system

From which all living things are nourished.

The basis – land –

The plants are my support.


Man comes from dust

And to dust he shall return

You are the sanctity of my land

I shall remember again and again –

Not quarrels over lands

Just a clear obligation

To till it

And preserve it


To work it –

Like a ritual –

To cherish and learn,

Respect, nurture,

And use out of respect,

Learn to preserve its properties,

And understand how it was created,

And the extent of its treasures.

And to protect it from me:

Not to covet,

Not to exploit,

Not to pollute,

Not to sabotage,

Not to dig in it in vain

Not to move it,

I shall remember to bow my head before it,

And thank creation and all of its treasures.


Creation –

Under which we are all equal,

We all eat from its bounty,

Much humility is needed here,

That I should not put myself

Before it.


I was born into a complex world,

The earth is the basis of my existence

On Shavuot I vowed

Not to destroy

My world.


On Shavuot I vowed to my land

To till it and preserve it

To know it

And cherish it

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