I Love Lucy and Parshat Ki Tetze- What is the Connection?

I Love Lucy and Parshat Ki Tetze- What is the Connection?


In Memory of Reva Margolin (a fan of I Love Lucy) on her 20th Yahrzeit


Every I Love Lucy fan has seen the episode where Lucy and Ethel are supposed to be working in a chocolate factory but they end up spending most of their time eating the chocolate instead of working.


(If you haven’t seen the episode click on the following link) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnbNcQlzV-4


Are workers permitted to eat on the job?


In Parshat Ki Tetze, Devarim 23:25 we read: “When you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat grapes as you desire, to your satisfaction; but you shall not put any in your vessel.”


According to the Rambam, this verse is referring to a hired laborer, as only a hired laborer would be permitted to go into his neighbor’s field.


According to the Mishna in Bava Metzia 7:2, Biblically, workers are permitted to eat from the produce that they are working with.


Torah Temima teaches that a person can eat the produce while he is on the job since eating will give him the strength to continue working all day.


Nechama Leibowitz points out that the Torah is protecting the laborer who should not have to endure the sight of appetizing fruit forbidden to him while at work.


If the sight of the fruit distracts him, the laborer will not be as focused as he should be on the job.


However, there are limits. Rashi says that you can eat as much as you want, but not gluttonously. Alshich says that if you overdo it and eat too much your body will get sick. Rather than satisfying your body, you should focus on satisfying your soul.


According to the Mishna in Bava Metzia 7:5, Man should not be ravenous. Even though he is technically allowed to eat as much as he wants, if he overdoes it, he will not make a good impression on his employer.


Permission to eat is only granted to the workers while they are working. They are not permitted to take any of the produce home for themselves or for family members without paying.


These laws only apply to one who is working in a field with produce that is attached to the ground. The Mishna in Bava Metzia 7:1 states that feeding the workers in other circumstances would depend on the local custom.


In I Love Lucy the boss clearly did not want Lucy and Ethel eating on the job. Therefore, Lucy and Ethel are obligated to listen to her and not eat the chocolate. As well, they ate way too much which could have caused them to get sick and they hid more chocolate in their hats and clothing which is never permitted.