Weekly Reading Insights: Ki Tavo 5766

Overview of the Weekly Reading: Ki Tavo

To be read on 16 Elul 5766 (Sept. 9)

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 13nd 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:4966/Ki Taytsey)

How unfortunate are those who only eat the straw instead of the real fruit of Torah and don't understand the inner secrets of the Torah. They learn only the simple stories as they are written and the logical deductions associated with them.

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:5066/Ki Taytsey)

Also, meditate on the fact that the numerical value of this divine name mem-tav-kuf-vav [=546] is equivalent to the numerical value of the letters used to spell out the name Havayah such that its total is 72 [i.e. 46] plus the numerical value of the posterior of the name Eh-yeh when it is spelled out, i.e. 544.

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

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From Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:5066/Ki Tavo)

If you will look still more deeply into the significance of this letter shin, you will find that it is an allusion to the Shechina, whose first letter is shin, a manifestation of the presence of G-d. The shin of the four "heads" is an allusion to the Shechina which orbits [surrounds] the entire globe as well as outer space and which exerts its influence on the four "chayot" [angels] of the divine entourage described both in the visions of Ezekiel and Isaiah.


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


"Because you did not serve the L-rd your G-d with joy and gladness of heart...therefore will you serve your enemies." (Deut. 28:47-48)

When a person serves someone he feels close to and loves, his tasks are performed with joy and alacrity. A lack of joy in the service of G-d thus implies that the person serves a distant Master from Whom he is estranged, G-d forbid.
(Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin)

Human nature is such that when a person searches for a lost object, he is unhappy until he finds it. Divine service, by contrast, is different. It states in Chronicles (16:10): "The heart of those who seek G-d shall rejoice." When a person looks to find G-d, he is happy even while he searches.
(Rabbi Bunim of Pshischa)


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


The Month of Elul

Sound the Great Shofar

The main thing is that from the trembling of the shofar blowing, we should come to the trembling of the World to Come - since "The glory of G-d will be revealed and all flesh together will see," there will then be a great trembling that will cause people to
"Come into the clefts of the rocks and the hollows of the cliffs, because of the fear of the Lord and because of the splendor of His pride."

And since there is nothing stopping Him, there will immediately be the "sounding of the great Shofar," and as a matter of course the question of "Ad masai" (till when) will be nullified, since "G-d will not delay them even for the blink of an eye." Meaning, in the blink of an eye the request of "Sound the great Shofar for our liberation" will be
fulfilled, with a true and complete liberation and Redemption.

(Sicha of Rosh Chodesh Elul 5747; Hisvaaduyos 5747 vol. 2, p. 315)

[From the Global Chabad-Lubavitch Resource Center-- www.Shluchim.org.]


An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:5066/Ki Tavo)

This week's Torah reading begins with the words, "When you come to the land that the Lord your G-d has given you as a portion, and you inherit it and settle it" (Deut. 26:1) The Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches that especially now, with Mashiach at our doorstep, a Jew cannot be satisfied with sitting in an ivory tower, preoccupied with personal accomplishments! A Jew must go out and change his or her part of the world and thereby affect the whole of Creation. The Jews completed their 40 year sojourn in the desert, where they were nurtured and protected, and then entered Israel, where they had to take their talents and use them to transform the land. So too, with the redemption so close, we must utilize our powers for the good of others and especially for the good of the Holy Land!

This does not necessarily mean to pick up and move, but rather each of us has the power to make wherever we are into Israel, a place where more spiritual energy is felt. How are we to do this? Different people have different ways of going about dealing with an issue. Some people like to do things step by step, and some like to jump right in headfirst.

We actually see this variation concerning the first mitzvah mentioned in this week's Torah reading, to bring one's first fruits to the priest. The Talmud says that these are to be brought when the Jews completely "inherited and settled" Israel (Kedushin 37b); the Midrash disagrees saying that the word "Vehaya", meaning, in this case, "when" means that immediately upon entering Israel the Jews were to bring first fruits grown there (Sifre). Practically, we can't simultaneously fulfill both halachic opinions. Spiritually, however, we activate both opinions in our divine service. Sometimes you have to just leap in to a important project….

As soon as a Jews wakes up in the morning, he immediately recites the "Modeh Ani" prayer, saying "Thank you, living King, that You have returned my soul to me...", showing that sometimes you have to just jump in and get started. Nevertheless, the order of the day afterwards is to get up, wash hands according to Jewish law, say Morning Blessings, put on tefillin (for men), and recite morning prayers before starting our daily work. This shows how sometimes we have to move in an orderly step-by-step way. This is the practical lesson, that our work has both dimensions: immediate and progressive. In both ways, parashat Ki Tavo is a reminder to get moving!

Over the last 2,000 years, Jewish scholars have made slightly varying lists of distinguishing the 613 commandments. Maimonides lists "And you must walk in His ways" (Deut. 26:17) as a separate mitzvah requiring us to emulate G-d, i.e. just as G-d is kind so must we be kind, etc. This is very interesting because none of the other general commandments such as "Be holy" or "Keep my commandments" are counted by Maimonides. What is unique here is the use of the word "walk". Commandments must be done in a way of walking. Sometimes when a person performs a commandment, he or she is left in the same place that he or she began - no change, no elevation. The command here is the requirement to "walk", implying progression. Performing this should cause a Jew to leave his or her previous situation and move on to a higher place.

Close to the end of the parasha is the oft-quoted verse "... since you did not serve the Lord your G-d with happiness and a good heart from it all" (Ibid. 28:47). Rashi explains that, as this verse follows a long line of curses, it refers to the Jewish people not having served G-d while their lives were easy, resulting in their being forced to serve amidst hardship. The Arizal suggests an alternate interpretation: punishment for failing to serve G-d happily, i.e. that happiness is one of the requirements in performing the commandments. This is obviously a very tall order. Can it be that we truly deserve all of these punishments just because we did not serve G-d with joy?!

The Rebbe of Kotzk reads the verse differently: "Since you did not serve G-d with happiness". This means that, not only was divine service neglected, but they neglected it happily! Any way you look at it, during this month of Elul, a word to the wise should be sufficient.
Rebbe Michael of Zlotshuv made an analogy to understand how to successfully return to G-d: It is like a person who stumbled into a pit and was hurt; forever after, even after being healed from the injury, whenever this person would encounter an open pit, he or she would make certain to give it a wide berth. It is not enough just to do a positive action required of you; you have to also distance yourself from the place and situation that caused your downfall. Similarly, each of us must examine what are our personal spiritually dangerous situations and avoid them to the best of our ability.


Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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