Parsha Ki Tavo 5769 — The Merit of Acting Quickly on a Mitzvah

By Moshe Burt

Parsha Ki Tavo continues in the same theme track with last week’s Parsha Ki Teitzei, as well as the string of previous Parshiyot in discussing Mitzvot which teach kindness, compassion and attentiveness to others.

Ki Tavo begins with the Halachot of Bikkurim — 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 milk and honey. Our Parsha then enunciates the laws concerning Ma’aser and it’s declaration regarding the required tithes.

The Parsha also relates 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. Then the B’nai Yisrael were to construct a Mizbeiyach on which korbonot were to be offered. We are told about the assembly to take place on Mts. Gerizim and Eival, 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.

In enunciating these Mitzvot, our Parsha teaches the importance of doing Mitzvot quickly, as epitomized by bring the Bikkurim, striking while the irons are hot, eagerly and B’Simcha — with happiness.

So, what is the relationship between the importance of doing Mitzvot quickly and the Mitzvot Bein Adom L’Chaveiro listed throughout both Parshiyot Ki Teitzei and Ki Tavo and the writing of Torah in 70 languages?

Firstly, the Tzaddik Nachum Ish Gamzo, from whence the famous expression “Gamzo L’Tova” came, suffered from pains which wracked his entire body. His talmidim once asked him why it was that he suffered greatly. He responded:

“I was once travelling on my donkey in the wilderness when a poor man stopped me and asked for food. He looked extremely faint and I took great pity on him. Yet, I told him to wait until I had unsaddled my donkey. I thought that he could surely wait until then. However, after I did this, I looked and saw that the man had fallen to the ground. I tried to revive him, but it was no use, he had already died of hunger. Had I rushed to do the Mitzvah of providing him with food, he might have survived. I have never forgiven myself for not performing the Mitzvah with more haste and that is, no doubt, why I deserve these pains.” (L’lmod U’lamed, Rabbi Mordechai Katz, Parsha Ki Tavo, Pag 179)

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) That is, it seems, to act quickly and decisively and not equivocate.

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 remembrance of Amalek from under the heaven…”; the external as well as the internal Amalek.

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)

But we could suggest that since we don’t now have the 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 collective power with our Chessed, our Tzeddaka to help in some degree to alleviate the suffering of our fellow Jews.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard and captive Gilad Shalit and the other MIAs be liberated alive and be returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem and that we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network.