This week, our Parshat HaShavua, Ki Tavo is being sponsored by Loren and Sora Deetza Spigelman of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated in honor of their daughter Devorah’s upcoming marriage to Ariel Markus. To the Spigelman family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes
You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring (or as the case may be, co-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.
Our Parshat begins as Torah informs us, through Moshe’s address to the B’nei Yisrael, of the ceremony of Bikkurim in which farmers were to take their first fruits 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..
After the ceremony of the Bikkurim, Torah next tells:
“Moshe and the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, ‘Observe the entire commandment that I command you this day. It shall be on the day that you cross the Jordan to the Land that Hashem, Keilokecha [your G’d] gives you, you shall set up great stones and you shall coat them with plaster. You shall inscribe on them all the words of this Torah, when you cross over, so that you may enter the Land that Hashem, Keilokecha gives you, Land flowing with milk and honey… It shall be that when you cross the Jordan, you shall erect these stones, of which I command you today, on Mount Eival… There you shall build an altar [Mizbeiyach] for Hashem, Keilokecha, an altar of stones; you shall not raise iron on them. Of whole stones shall you build the altar of Hashem, Keilokecha, and you shall bring upon it elevation offerings to Hashem, Keilokecha.'” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 27, posukim 1-6 as rendered to English in the Artscroll, Stone Edition Chamash)
Next, Moshe enumerated the public recitations of the Brachot and Clalot (Blessings and Curses) to be recited on the day of the crossing of the Jordan, that six tribes (Sh’vatim) would stand atop Mount Gerizim, while the other six tribes would stand on Mount Eival and the people would acknowledge publicly the commandments enumerated and the blessings that await those who observe them and the curses that will befall those who spurn them. (This author citing the Artscroll, Stone Edition Chamash, Sefer Devarim, Perek 27, posukim 11-26, Perek 28, posukim 1 – 69)
Sefer Shem Mishmuel (by R’ Shmuel Bornstein, as translated by R’ Zvi Belovski, page 414) notes:
When Klal Yisrael were about to enter Eretz Yisrael, they were making a new start in a new land. They needed a tangible reminder of the correct way in which to begin their service of Hashem. Thus Hashem required them to erect stones and to write the text of the Torah upon them. This indicates that the first element of Divine service comes from the innermost, unchanging part of the personality. They were to try to arouse the Holy attachment to Torah which lay deep within them [“pintele yid”] and allow it to pervade and purify the rest of their personalities.
R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch z”l provides additional commentary on Sefer Devarim, Perek 27, posukim 1-6 in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Rabbi Daniel Haberman, pages 643-644) :
Ensuring forever that they [Mitzvot] are known and carried out, the task devolves not only the leaders and elders, but on the whole people…. Moshe… places the people under the obligation of keeping the Mitzvot.
These Mitzvot… are called here Mitzvah, one commandment, for all of the Mitzvot together form the task devolving on Israel, and to carry out this task Israel was assigned its historical “post.”
Rabbi Shmuel Goldin summarizes the final posukim of our Parshat Ki Tavo in his sefer “Unlocking The Torah Text,” Sefer Davarim (page 259) :
Moshe closes Parshat Ki Tavo by reminding the nation of the miracles they have experienced. He again encourages them to adhere to their Covenant with Hashem and to observe His Laws, “so that you will succeed in all that you do.” (Rabbi Goldin summarizing Sefer Devarim, Perek 29, posukim 1-8 and quoting from the final words of posuk 8)
With this closing to our Parshat Ki Tavo, Moshe begins his final speech to Am Yisrael, a speech that continues through most of the remaining Parshiyot of Torah.
The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash provides a narrative on Moshe’s speech in these final posukim (page 1085) :
He [Moshe] begins by putting the Wilderness years into perspective. Only now, after forty years of miraculous survival and the beginning of a conquest that was clearly accomplished by Hashem, could the people fully appreciate the awesome degree of gratitude and allegiance they owed Him. As the Sages say (Artscroll Stone Chumash citing Avodah Zora 5b), a student does not fully understand his teacher until after forty years. It is now forty years since Moshe had led them out of Egypt, so that he told them that Hashem would now expect more of them.
Once again, this author refers back to the Chovos Halevovos Cheshbon HaNefesh booklet which was published and distributed Lilui Nishmas on the occasion of the shloshim in Kislev 5780 of HaRav Chaim Zev ben Avrohom Aharon HaLevi Malinowitz Zt”L who was Rav of Kehillat Beit Tefillah Yona Avraham.
In the booklet, Rav Malinowitz summarizes Day 24 and adds additional insight in a way similar to the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash as to how, with age, Hashem expects more of us:
Reflect that the Torah and tefillah knowledge of your youth is insufficient. Study the language and interpretations with renewed and higher understanding, remember and review.
We are pretty satisfied if we’ve learned something in the past, review it regularly, and remember it. Wonderful, no?
No! says the Chovos Halevovos. You’ve matured, your intelligence has grown more sophisticated, you’ve acquired more depth, a wider perspective, sharper analytical skills.
Do not be satisfied with Chumash as you learned it in fifth grade… with Davening as you Davened as a 14 year old, with Gemara or hashkafa which you learned decades ago, as you learned them decades ago. Always review and increase the quality of your learning… or your Davening… or your Avodas Hashem…
That Hashem would now expect more of them, as the Artscroll Stone Chumash notes above: seems to this author to indicate Not just individuals, but the entirety of B’nei Yisrael, including its governance.
As much as the nations continue to commit their abominations and will be ultimately judged, B’nei Yisrael and our political “leaders” and governmental “elders” continue to act in multitudinous, nefarious, and often duplicitous ways in contradiction to the ways of Torah, the will of their constituency and the security and sovereignty of Am Yisrael as has been discussed by this author in numerous previous vorts over the years.
As Rosh Hashana approaches, we must undertake a groundswell to bring about a Jewish nation, not just the Am Yisrael, but the governance of Israel, in consonance with Hashem’s spirit in having these Torah-inscribed stones placed at our border and at Gilgal, as well as to receive the blessings that await those who observe the commandments inscribed upon them.
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, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, all at total government expense; due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now free of his parole and restrictions and that he is now in his second year at home in Eretz Yisrael. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. May 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 eight 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. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese corona virus pandemic and all like viruses. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei 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.