Among the many laws in the Torah that command us to treat those less fortunate with dignity, we are instructed to allow an employee to eat from the produce he is harvesting:1

When you enter your neighbor’s vineyard,2 you may eat as many grapes as you desire, until you are sated, but you shall not put [any] into your vessel.

When you enter your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pick the ears with your hand, but you shall not lift a sickle upon your neighbor’s standing grain...3

Why does the Torah repeat the idea, mentioning both an employee working in a vineyard and one in a grain field? Is it not enough to state the principle once?

The repetition indicates that the Torah seeks to tell us more than the straightforward meaning of the verse. On a deeper level, the two employees refer to two very different attitudes toward man’s work and purpose on this earth.

G‑d created a beautiful but imperfect world. At the conclusion of the six days of creation, we are told, “G‑d rested on the seventh day from all His work which G‑d created laasot,”4 which means to correct and perfect. The world is an often chaotic field; we were placed on this earth to “work” it—to create order out of the chaos, to discover the fertility hidden within the earth, to plant and to harvest, and ultimately to bring the world to perfection.

There are two ways to look at our “work,” Some see the world as a field of grain, while others see it as a vineyard. The torah considers grain a staple—necessary for survival, while the vine and the wine it produces represent pleasure and enjoyment.

A person can be G‑d’s employee—he can understand that he has a purpose in life, a goal he must achieve in order to perfect the world and fulfill his responsibility toward his maker—yet he is working with grain. He does what he needs to, but his work is void of passion and pleasure. Or, one can see the world as a vineyard. This person also recognizes his responsibility as an employee of G‑d, but he sees the work as a source of pleasure and satisfaction.

Both of these people work for the same Employer, in the same line of work, but one is in the field and the other in the vineyard. Both are entitled to “eat on the job,”—to benefit from G‑d’s blessing, both physically and spiritually. There is, however, a fundamental difference between them. The employee working the field, the one who has no pleasure and just does his obligation, receives a limited flow from Above. The employee working the vine, the one who invests his pleasure and essence into the work, going above and beyond the call of duty, receives an infinite flow from Above as he connects to the essence of G‑d.

That is why, explain the Kabbalists, when talking about the employee in the vineyard, the Torah says “You shall not put [any] into your vessel.” In the literal sense, this refers to taking grapes home. The inner meaning is that the Divine blessing the vineyard employee will receive—the level of G‑dliness he will reach—will be infinite. As such, it will be unable to be contained in the limited confines of a vessel.5