This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Ki Tavo is dedicated for a total, complete Refuah Shlaima and good health, happiness and success in all ways and endeavors to at least 120 years for Yishaya Shalom ben Malka Gittel Blass.
You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.
Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
Torah outlines, at the beginning of our Parshat, the ceremony in which farmers were to take their first fruits, the Bikkorim, to the Beit HaMikdash and present them to the Kohen in a ritual which included expression of gratitude to Hashem for all that He had done for them.
The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash (pages 1068-1069) explains:
The Jew’s gift of the first fruits… to the Kohen symbolizes that he dedicates everything he has to the service of Hashem. For a Jew to say that his every accomplishment… is a gift from Hashem, is one of the goals of Creation.
Part of this expression of gratitude to Hashem by the farmers states:
“The Egyptians mistreated us and placed hard work upon us.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 26, posuk 6 as rendered to English by both The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash and The Sapirstein Edition: The Torah with Rashi’s Commentary)
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (pages 444-445) cites Rabbi Mordechai Gifter, from his sefer. “Pirkei Torah” (Vol. 1, page 30):
The verse is telling us… that before the Egyptians afflicted our forefathers they first mounted a slander campaign against them and made them appear evil in the eyes of others. Only after they had everyone thinking that the Israelites were evil and not worthy of standard human rights could they make their decrees against them, and the rest of the people accepted this otherwise unacceptable behavior. In recent history, this was the strategy of the Nazis and their propaganda vilifying us as a prelude to their actual oppression of our people.
We see these slanders by the nations even today by way of the countless cases where the world’s print and electronic media, including the internet, equate a parity between an Israeli response to a terror attack or a Hamas or Hezbollah rocket where the terrorists are terminated or neutralized, with the terrorist attack or rocket which claims Jewish injured or fatalities; i.e.the killing of Islamic terrorists who smuggled weapons onto Har HaBayit and murdered Israeli policemen, or the off-duty Chayal who neutralized the terrorist who stabbed and killed three members of a family in Halamish in their home as they ate the Shabbos night meal, among numerous such instances.
Rabbi Moshe Weissman, in his sefer “The Midrash Says” on our Parshat Ki Tavo (“The Midrash Says” on Sefer Devarim, pages 294-296) indicates that Hashem’s command which Moshe and the elders transmitted to the people required two sets of twelve huge stones each where Torah was transcribed into seventy languages in order that the nations read, learn and understand Torah, both at the border — in the land of Moav on the Eastern side of the Jordan River, and another set at Har Eval where Am Yisrael would bring korbonot (offerings to Hashem). Later, these latter stones — the altar with Torah inscribed would be broken down in order to be brought to Gilgal, the first station in Eretz Yisrael where they would stand permanently.
“The Midrash Says” also indicates that these latter twelve stones were to be taken, upon crossing the Jordan, “from the place where the water receded for B’nai Yisrael to cross.”
“The Midrash Says” (ibid) records:
The stones signified that one was about to enter the land of the Torah. Just as a Jewish home is distinguished by the Mezuza at the doorpost, so a huge monument at the border of Eretz Yisrael reminded the traveler that the purpose of living there is to keep the Torah.
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (Ibid) goes on to explain:
This too [dehumanizing and then afflicting] is the strategy of people who want to rationalize their mistreatment of others or their lack of helping others. They try to justify their cruelty or apathy by claiming that the other person has done much or serious wrong. Before accepting these negative reports, it is incumbent upon those hearing them to clarify if they are really true. Ask [one’s self], “What might be motivating this person to relate this negative material?…. Even if the negative information is true, one must ascertain if the behavior it supposedly comes to condone [which is being justified] is proper according to
This measurement of whether such action is proper according to Torah principles would seem to apply on a national level among the politicians and among the sectors of Jews here in Israel, as viewed by the nations. As much as the nations continue to commit their abominations and will be ultimately judged, B’nai Yisrael and our political “leaders” and “elders” continue to act in multitudinous ways in contradiction to the ways of Torah, as has been discussed by this author in numerous previous vorts.
This author has a friend who once recounted stories about a certain Arab UN diplomat who would disdainly address his Israeli counterpart: “Are we talking about a Jewish state which keeps the Shabbat, that keeps Kosher…???”
These contradictions bring Am Yisrael into a perception of hypocrisy in the view of the nations. Jewish lives and survival have never mattered to the nations, who have persecuted us throughout these millennia. But when the the actions of our own political “leaders”, even among some of the religious politicos, and so-called elites feed the disdain with which the nations hold of us, this not only runs counter to Hashem’s purpose in placing the stones at the border with Torah inscribed upon them; the boosha, the disgrace of such actions diminishes our right to Eretz Yisrael where Hashem has placed us.
As Rosh Hashana approaches, we must undertake a groundswell to bring about a Jewish nation in
consonance with Hashem’s spirit in having these Torah-inscribed stones placed at our border and at Gilgal.
May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of three years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May 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 to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
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 and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.