Parsha Ki Tavo
By Moshe Burt
(Former Arutz-7 link;

Paraha Ki Tavo continues along a common theme track with last week's Parsha Ki Teitsei, namely discussion of Mitzvot which teach kindness, compassion and attentiveness to others and to other living creatures.

Ki Teitsei teaches us Mitzvot ranging from choosing the correct marriage partner, who may or may not marry whom, divorce guidelines, laws concerning the Ben Sorer U'Moreh (the rebellious son) through returning lost property, sending a mother bird away before taking the young or the eggs, helping one's fellow Jew load and unload a burden, fencing in a roof area and not harnessing together different species of animals on the same yoke.

The theme track then seems to be abruptly interrupted by the Maftir section on remembering and not forgetting what Amalek did to us and to "blot out the rememberance of Amalek from under the heaven..."

Ki Tavo begins with the Halachot of Bekorim -- the first fruits which were brought to the Kohen as both thanksgiving and rememberance of Pharaoh's cruelty and Hashem's deliverance of B'nai Yisrael from Mitzrayim to a land flowing with mik and honey. This section teaches us the importance of doing Mitzvot quickly, striking while the irons are hot, eagerly and B'Simcha -- with happiness.

Our Parsha then returns to where Ki Teitsei left off with the enunciation of the laws concerning Ma'aser and it's declaration regarding the required tithes.

The Parsha continues with Hashem's command regarding the Mitzvot of writing Torah on 12 huge stones, in all 70 languages, to be placed on the East Side of the Jordon River, in what was Mo'av and bringing another 12 huge stones to Mt Aival where they are to be built as a Mizbeiyach upon which B'nai Yisrael will offer Korbonot. This Mizbeiyach would later be disassembled and the second set of stones were subsequently used for a second inscription of Torah in the 70 languages. The Parsha speaks about the assembly to take place on Mts. Gerizim and Aival, and in the valley in between, where the Brachot and K'lalot are to be pronounced upon B'Nai Yisrael's entrance into Eretz Yisrael.

What I want to discuss here is the possible relationship between the rememberance of Amalek's evil attack upon us, the Mitzvot Bein Adom L'Chaveiro listed in both Parshiyot and the writing of Torah in 70 languages.

Shem Mishmuel writes on Parsha Shoftim that when Klal Yisrael is fighting Holy Wars, "they must set aside their private concerns for their own well-being and survival in the war ... They must feel that the battle is not for themselves, but for Hashem and his glory. ...This level of control is no easy matter; it involves nullifying one's private concerns before the will of Hashem. " (Shem Mishmuel, page 404)

It seems also that only when we are selfless and subvert our own personal agenda when doing Mitzvot, we will merit National Yahdut and thus collectively merit to "blot out the rememberance of Amalek from under the heaven..."

The Midrash Says asks what the purpose was for placing huge rocks with the Torah inscribed in 70 languages on the East Side of the Jordon River and in Gilgul, at the entrance to Eretz Yisrael. It offers an explanation; that they served as a warning to the Gentiles to accept upon themselves the Noachide Laws. (The Midrash Says, Parsha Ki Tavo, pages 294-295)

Shem Mishmuel, however, explains the purpose differently. He indicates that the two sets of stones inscribed with Torah are "a tangible reminder of the correct way with which to begin their service of Hashem." 

He speaks about the two distinct facets to the Jewish heart. The first, deepest and most fundamental part is the Divine soul which is "completely undefilable and impervious to foreign forces. The second, more external part is much more impressionable; it is able to receive influence (good influences or defilable, bad infuences) from the outside. " It is the secondary aspect which one is enjoined to purify. This purification will enable it to accept and retain Torah knowledge and ideals. 

He explains the difference between writing of a Torah on huge stones and the normal manner of writing a Torah on parchment, the skin of a Kosher animal in this way. "The hide of the animal must first be treated before the writing can commence. If untreated skin is used, the whole exercise is futile, as the writing is invalid. Just as the skin needs refining before the writing will be valid, so too, one needs to remove any treaces of personal defilement before beginning one's Torah development." 

And so comes the problem, Shem Mishmuel's explanation of the "Catch-22" -- "It seems that to achieve purification, one needs Torah, but to learn Torah requires prior purification."

Shem Mishmuel explains that the inner aspect of the heart is always capable of Torah study and Mitzvah observance. "By stimulating this inner, Godly element, one will enable its influence to spread to the coarser, outer manifestation, which will have a cleansing and purifying effect. Once this stage is reached, even the secondary aspect of the heart will be ready to receive the Torah."

"The animal world is subject to change. The passage of time affects the animal and the processes of nature ensure that after a certain period the animal's cells are replenished. " This symbolizes the outer, impressionable part of the heart which can be improved and sanctified. 

The inner, holy element remains unchanging and unchangeable -- thereby represented by stone, the least changing entity in creation.

"Thus, Hashem required them to erect stones and write the text of the Torah on them. This indicates that the first element of Divine Service comes from the innermost, changing part of the personality. " The Torah written on the stones was "to try to arouse the holy attachment to Torah which lay deep within them (klal Yisrael) and allow it to pervade and purify the rest of their personalities." (Shem Mishmuel, pages 412 - 414)

So it seems that the Torah written in stone served a dual purpose, to warn the Gentiles but to also purify ourselves. By purifying ourselves and our deeds, by the learning and the application of Torah, we then merit "blot out the rememberance of Amalek from under the heaven..."

Today, we don't have revealed to us the 2 sets of 12 stones on which Torah was written in 70 languages. But we do have the outer skin which is still coarse and not properly treated. And so, we don't learn from our past mistakes. Oslo began with "Aza and Jercho First" just as this time, we have "Aza and Bethlehem First" followed soon after by Abu Sneinah in Chevron, ... Yet again, we've forgotten to remember and not forget what Amalek did to us and to "blot out the rememberance of Amalek from under the heaven..."

But I want to suggest that since we don't have those two sets of 12 huge, Torah-inscribed stones, maybe we have another way to achieve the goal -- purification of the outer part of the heart through stimulation of the inner, Divine soul. We have it in our power to provide every needy location in Eretz Yisrael with it's very own Sefer Torah. 

Most of you have, no doubbt seen my numerous posts regarding my fund raising efforts for the Sefer Torah being restored for transfer to Yishuv Homesh. Many of you in Israel and in the US and Canada have already graciously given funds toward this project. To those who have already joined in this project -- Tizku L'Mitzvot. But many of you have yet to join in this venture. Could there be a more appropriate time for this Mitzvah than now, just before the Chaggim?

"And Schilling's in the stretch with the bases jammed in the 9th with two out and a full count on Shawn Green. Will Shawn do it 'in the clutch' when the chips are down and the game on the line? Or will Schilling get out of the jam and win yet another game (barring a Baseball strike)? The pitch...."

Maybe "The Sefer Torah Recycling Network" should act as Milton Berle and lift an expression. How's "Homesh first" ? Will we set aside, subjugate or nullify our private concerns before the will of Hashem and his glory??

As one lover of Eretz Yisrael to another, I'm sure that you share my wish that Yishuv Homesh truly be a Mokom Torah. And imagine the level of Kedusha when all of the neshamot who have lained from, touched and kissed the Sefer Torah in the past, back in Baltimore, unite with all of the neshamot yet to lain from, touch and kiss the Sefer Torah here in Eretz Yisroel.

My hope is to raise funds, beyond this particular Sefer Torah, in order to set up an Amutah or a Non-Profit Company in Israel, a 501-C3 Non-profit organization in the US and to establish "The Sefer Torah Recycling Network" an ongoing, serious project.

Donors in the US, please make tax deductible donation checks out to "Congregation Ahavas Torah Tzedakah Fund", with a note on both the Memo line of the check and on the envelope "Mark Burt & Sefer Torah Recycling Network" and mail to "Congregation Ahavas Torah Tzedakah Fund", 1425 Rhawn Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19111.

In Israel, please make donations checks out to me "Mark (Mem, Reish, Kuf) Burt (Beit, Aleph, Reish, Tet)" I want to thank you in advance for your heartfelt assistance. 

May we be Zocha, through learning and applying our learning and not depending totally on The Leader to get it right for us, by perfection of our internal and private middot and darchim through self-purification; Modesty, Humility and our other Mitzvot; Chasadim(kindnesses to our fellow Jews), Tzedakah, Total Honesty and Ahavat Chinom for our fellow Jews and for Kol Klal Yisrael on all levels -- personal, business, learning, etc. to have our Tefillah reach Shemayim, unimpeded, ungarbled. May we be zocha to fulfill Hashem's blueprint of B'nai Yisrael as a Unique people, not to be reckoned with as with "the nations." 

May we be zocha to demand, compel Hashem to do "what he wants to do, to bring us the Moshiach and the Ge'ula Shlaima, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v'yameinu -- speedily, in our time", to bring us the time when all of us will have the great light of the Godol HaD'or's Achshav -- IMMEDIATELY -- Etmal, like Chik Chuk!!!

Sefer Torah, Sifrei Torah, Sefer Torah Recycling, Sefer Torah repairs, Torah scrolls, Torah Scroll Restoratation, Sefer Torah restoration, Sefer Torah transfer, Israel, Eretz Yisrael, Mokom Torah, Mekomot Torah, chessed, mitzvah, tzedaka, donations, raise funds, Shuls, Israel, Eretz Yisroel, Yeshivas, Yeshivot, Israeli Yeshivot, chizuk, Ahavat Yisroel, Sofer, Sofrim, Sofrus, Synagogues, Synagogues in Israel, Beit Knesset, Israeli Batei Knesset, Israeli cities, Israeli towns, needy locations in Israel, Memorials in Israel  Mission: Acquires donations of Sifrei Torah and raises funds to restore them to a Kosher state for transfer to needy locations in Israel.