Weekly Reading Insights: Ki Tavo 5765


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Ki Tavo

To be read on 20 Elul 5765 (Sept. 24)

Torah: Deut. 26:1-29:8
Haftorah: Isaiah 60 (6th of the Seven Haftorahs of Consolation)

Pirkei Avot Chapter 3-4

Ki Tavo is the 7th Reading out of 11 in Deut. and 50th overall, and 13th out of 54 in overall length.

Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8) opens with the laws of bringing first fruits and tithes. The Jews are reminded that if they keep the commandments, G-d will reward them. The Jews are told that on the day they cross over the Jordan River into Israel, they should inscribe the Torah in 70 languages onto stones. The stones are to be brought to Mt. Eval and an altar is to be erected with sacrifices offered upon it. Certain tribes are to stand on Mt. Eval and some on Mt. Grizim. The Levites are to stand between the two mountains and announce the blessings and curses for fulfilling G-d's commandments or not. Moshe then makes a covenant between G-d and the Jews, listing in detail the rewards for fulfilling G-d's will and the consequences for not doing so. Ki Tavo concludes with Moshe reminding the Jews of the miracles and victories wrought for them by G-d, and that by keeping this covenant, G-d will grant them success.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:50-65/Ki Tavo)

Jacob was adorned with his sons [the 12 combinations of the Holy Name], as we have explained, because he is [the physical manifestation] of that tree [Zeir Anpin], and all bonding in faith depends on him.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:50-65/Ki Tavo)

But in the case of the ten evil sefirot, the holy life force cannot be absorbed inside them, for the holy does not mix with the profane. Rather, it hovers above them and enlivens them from afar. Therefore their number is eleven.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shlah (S:50-65/Ki Tavo)

Actually, the purpose of the Creation was the Torah, which would provide the means by which mankind could successfully exist on earth and which in turn mankind or Israel respectively were meant to observe.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"I have not transgressed any of your commandments neither have I forgotten." (26:13).

Why were two such similar statements necessary? To teach us that it is possible to fulfill a commandment and at the same time forget it. This happens when one fulfills it without intent-while the mind is focused on other things.

(Sfat Emet) (from L'chaim #786)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


"It shall be, when you come into the land...and you shall take of all the fruit of the earth...and put it in a basket... and you shall go to the priest." (Deut. 26:1-3)

Fourteen years elapsed after the Jewish people entered the land of Israel until they were able to fulfill the second half of the verse -- the bringing of their first fruits to Jerusalem. Seven years were spent in conquering the entire land from its inhabitants; seven more years were spent dividing the land among the 12 tribes.
Our generation, which will very soon enter the promised land with the coming of Moshiach, will not need to wait any period of time before we are able to bring our first fruits to the Holy Temple. Not only will there be no need to conquer and distribute the land, but the fruits themselves will grow with such rapidity that their harvesting will take place simultaneously with their planting.

(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:50-65/Ki Tavo)

Parshat Ki Tavo begins with a detailed discussion of "bikurim", the offerings of first fruits, whose purpose is to express our thankfulness to G-d for the abundance He bestows upon us. This initial section ends with the verse (26/11), 'And you will be happy with all of the good that
G-d your Lord gave to you'.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe expounds on this verse: A Jew must always be happy! The Baal Shem Tov (whose birthday is this Thursday, the 18th day of Elul) would say that a Jew is able to be happy simply because he has been given the mission to be a servant of G-d. King David in his Psalms said, "Serve G-d with happiness!" And since the entire essence of a Jew is to serve G-d, to be a shining example for the world, a Jew must always be happy!

While this applies to every commandment, there are certain areas where the Torah particularly emphasizes the importance of happiness. One of these is bikurim. The commandment of bikurim is fulfilled through taking from the very best of the first fruits produced and bringing them as an offering to G-d in the Temple (later to be eaten by the priests). Since the Temple's destruction, we have not been able to fulfill the mitzvah of bikurim, by actually bringing first fruits. Nevertheless, its underlying message is incumbent upon us to express in our day to day life even today.

We see how to apply this via the text itself: "When you come to the Land that G-d your Lord gave to you", means that, first, you must realize that wherever you go, whatever situation in which you find yourself, it is because G-d brought you there to purify and elevate that place with your Jewish-ness! This is true even outside of the Land of Israel, since the great Chassidic Rebbes taught us, 'Make Israel here' (i.e. wherever you are)!

How can we do this? The verses continue, "And you should take from the first fruits of the land"; this implies that the offering for G-d has to come from our "first", the best of our time and ability. This is how a Jew demonstrates his appreciation to G-d for the "land" and its abundance. We begin our day with putting on tefillin, and prayer and Torah study, and only afterwards do we turn to our other business activities (this is true for rabbis as well as lawyers and doctors); it is then that we will see G-d's blessings.

All of this must be accompanied by great happiness, not just in our individual successes, but an all encompassing happiness just because as Jews we merit to serve our Creator. This overflows to all of our activities, even things not obviously connected with our spiritual lives. For this reason we always read the portion Ki Tavo just before the High Holidays, because this will be a guarantee that the Almighty will also sign and seal us for a good and sweet year, a year of redemption and true happiness.

On the same verse the 'Tiferet Shlomo' says something very much to the point: When you get a gift from the King, the gift is not as important as the fact that it came from the King. This is what the verse is telling us-you are happy with all of the good, that G-d, your Lord gave to you.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

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