This week, our Parshat HaShevua Ki Tavo is being sponsored anonymously and dedicated L’ilui Nishmas for Sima bat Avraham and Bracha bat Shlomo. To our anonymous sponsor and family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.
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.
R’ 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 [which is being justified] supposedly comes to condone is proper according to Torah principles.
Such anti-Semitic canards have been used against Jews through history. We see these slanders by the nations, even today, taking shape by way of the countless cases where the world’s print and electronic media, including the internet, decry as disparate, Israeli military responses where the terrorists are terminated or neutralized. Such comparisons of military responses to terror attacks which cause property damage, claim injuries, or fatalities of Jews, to Hamas or Hezbollah rocket or fiery kite attacks such as those that destroy land and trees, to where Hamas murderers try to overrun the Gaza border into southern Israel, or to where Israel takes military steps to secure her northern border against Iran’s forces and their Hezbollah proxies in Syria is totally absurd and bogus. The nations turn a deaf-ear and blind eye to Hamas or PA terrorist attacks causing serious injuries and fatalities to Jews.
We watch as the level of anti-Semitic canards in Chutz L’Aretz grow more widespread on social media. And we watch how Synagogues are desecrated, businesses owned by Jews are attacked and victimized by riotous looters such as Anti-fa and BLM who draw cover from urban political governances. The current atmosphere of hysteria which prevails during the Chinese Communist corona virus pandemic adds further flames to these fires.
So, what is the answer? This author has written repeatedly that Aliyah is an easier process in our generation than at any previous time during the two previous millennia. In America and other Western countries, the gates are not locked against Jews seeking to leave, to make Aliyah to Eretz Yisrael. US passports are there for the taking via your local post office. The bureaucracy in Israel has become easier for new olim to deal with, thanks to organizations such as Nefesh b’Nefesh.
Rav Shmuel Goldin speaks about Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 13 posuk 33, the one about “grasshoppers in our eyes” (“Unlocking The Torah Text,” Sefer Bamidbar, page 122):
“We were like grasshoppers in our eyes,” the spies proclaim, and then “so we were in their eyes.” Only once we felt our own worthlessness, did we become worthless in in the eyes of others.
…The core of the sin of the spies: when all is said and done, the spies are guilty of a loss of faith in themselves.
Here, this author asks on Rav Goldin, did the spies lose faith in themselves, or move to insure their positions in their lifetime by evoking a loss of faith in Hashem among the B’nei Yisrael? When we felt worthless, then we’re worthless in the eyes of others — this sounds soo much like R’ Pliskin’s citing of Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz on Parshat Sh’mot which this author has cited numerous times:
As long as they [the Jewish people] were considered important and worthy of respect by themselves [self-respect and self-esteem], the Egyptians were not able to treat them in an inferior manner. Only when they considered themselves in a lowly manner could they be subjugated by others.
In short, it is time for Jews to come home. We are meant to be in Eretz Yisrael.
Sefer Devarim, Parshat Ki Tavo, Perek 27, posuk 1 with commentary from the Artscroll Stone Chumash (page 1073):
“Moshe and the elders of Israel commanded the people saying, ‘Observe the entire commandment that I command you this day.'”
Moshe now commanded the people that upon entering the Land, … they were to commit themselves anew to Hashem and the Torah. They would do this by inscribing the entire Torah on twelve huge stones, by bringing offerings at two mountains to affirm their allegiance…. Moshe… summoned the elders of Israel to join him in this proclamation.
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 thrice 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, as Naama Issachar is now free and home — which can only occur when Jonathan is home in Israel and carrying for his ill wife Esther Yocheved bat Rayzl Bracha, and that the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of five and a half 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, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.