18 Elul 5773/August 24, 2013
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Parshat Ki Tavo
Vol. 5 Num. 1
mitzvah occurs in the period in whichnew fruits begin to grow, a time whenthe farmer feels a strong sense of singularity and uniqueness
new crops,a new year. The potential is stillunrealized, and anything might happen.At this time it is important to remindthe farmer that what seems to him asnew is nonetheless also a ring in theongoing chain of Jewish history. Thefocus here is on the need to connect tothe events that brought us to where weare now. Perhaps that is also the reasonwhy the reading must be recited inHebrew, even if the farmer does notunderstand what he says; the message,that the story is broader than the newbeginning you see, is stillcommunicated. Tithes, on the other hand, and the
reading in particular,come at a very different time for thefarmer. The fruits have already beencarried from the field to the barn andcounted. The farmer knows exactly what was achieved and what was not,and the feeling is a feeling of an end;the fruits that have not grown will notgrow anymore, and there is no point inhoping for more. At that point in timethe farmer begins to be more carefulwith his spending, as there is a finalnumber in his ledger.Here, the Torah interferes and obligatesthe farmer to raise his head and lookabout at his surroundings
the Leviteswho will receive the
tithe,the poor and weak who will receive the
tithe, and even his ownspiritual needs, which will be fed withthe
tithe in Jerusalem. The focus here is not on the past, andwhich fruits are visible to the eye, butthe faith in a vision of the future paidfor by the tithes. This might alsoaccount for our permission to changethe language of
; eachperson's vision of the future might be alittle different, and must be expressed inhis own language. Thus, the message rising from the juxtaposition of these two mitzvot is of adual nature; the pair emphasizes theneed to realize from whence we came,with
, as well as to knowwhere we are going with
.In the language of Rabbi Yosef DovSoloveitchik (Kol Dodi Dofek), we mustkeep before us both the covenant of fateand the covenant of destiny, and notlose sight of either one. This message, I believe, is particularly important as we approach RoshHashanah and Yom Kippur. Just as the Torah balanced the experience of enjoying new fruits by connecting it tothe past, so Rosh Hashanah, the day of fresh beginnings, is connected tomemories and judgment. Just as the Torah connected the season-endingtithes with the future, so Yom Kippur,the closing day of Judgment, is also aday of liberation, marking ourpurification for a better future.
Tithes and Bikkurim: Fate and Destiny
Rabbi Baruch Weintraub
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Our parshah opens with two mitzvotwhich have a strong similarity in theirstructure:
The bringing of the
[firstfruits] and the recitation of a
reading whenbringing them.
The proper disposition of
[tithes] and the
statement one must say afterdisposing of all of his tithes. The act of speaking incorporated inboth of these mitzvot may seem, atfirst glance, identical. However, as weturn our attention to the relevanthalachic details we discover certainincompatibilities. One example mightbe found in a mishnah (Sotah 7:1),where it is ruled that while the
statement may be recited inany language,
must berecited in Hebrew. This is not the only distinction; whenwe look into the content of thesereadings, we see a radical difference. The text of
, well-knownto us from the Haggadah, is mainly focused on the past, telling the story of the Jewish people dating back toYaakov, and perhaps even Avraham.On the other hand,
isfocused on the present, how the tithewas handled, and the hope to receiveG-d's future blessing as reward forproper tithing. Perhaps we mightsharpen our understanding of the twomitzvot themselves, and so come tounderstand the differences betweentheir readings.
are brought at a particular,well-defined time of the year. This
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PAGE 1: PARSHAHPAGE 2: HAFTORAH, 613 MITZVOT
PAGE 3: BIOGRAPHY, TORAH TRANSLATION, WITH ORIGINAL HEBREW
PAGE 4: THIS WEEK IN ISRAELI HISTORY, UPCOMING PROGRAMS