Adapted from teachings of Rabbis Avraham Greenbaum, Pinchas Winston , and Moshe Lichtman
Photo credit: Ben Goldstein
The commandments contained in Ki Tavo are almost the last commandments in the Torah. They relate to the longed for, glorious completion of the journey of the Jewish people ‘and it shall be when you come to the land.” We realize here Hashem’s eternal promise: that the time has arrived when YOU WILL COME TO THE LAND. The time will come when you will be able to present your (bikkurim) first fruits with gratitude in the Holy Temple, separate your priestly tithes and eat the fruits of your labor within the holy City of Jerusalem! (Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum)
As in biblical times until today, the traits of kindness and compassion are commanded to us in this parsha (“you must go in his ways): Deut.26:17 These are the marks of the true Israelite of the past and the Jew of the present. These are the distinctive attributes of AM SEGULA , the “treasured nation” whom Gd has chosen to observe His Torah and enjoy its’ bounty. However, with blessings come great responsibilities. Our parsha impresses upon us the seriousness of our Covenant with Gd with a striking ceremony to impress upon us that Israel’s presence in the land is not for the sake of having mere “territory”. The land of Israel is given as a place in which to fulfill the Torah. It is when Israel dwells in the land in order to observe the commandments that they are “for praise and for a name and for glory; a holy nation” Deut. 26:19 On entry into the land, the Israelites were to set up great stones washed with lyme. The Torah was written on them with clear explanation in 70 languages to show the entire world that our presence in the land of Israel is not particular to the Jewish people alone but of universal significance to all of mankind. Israel’s observance of Torah and our possession of the land of Israel as the place designated for this are in the interest of and apply to all of humanity. (Rabbi Greenbaum)
. In his book Eretz Yisroel and the Parsha, Rabbi Moshe Licthman points out that in the “grace after meals” prayers we say “We thank you Lord our Gd for giving our forefathers an inheritance of a desirable, good and spacious Land, for taking us out of the land of Egypt.” This statement seems out of order as Hashem took us out of Egypt first and then gave us the land. (of Israel) Rabbi Lichtman teaches how the Chatam Sofer explains; even though our forefathers roamed from nation to nation, their hearts and thoughts were always on the land of their inheritance and, as long as the Jewish people are faithful to Eretz Yisroel, (the land of Israel) they are safe in exile. But as soon as they renounce their ties to the land, making the diasporatheir permanent home Jews are still in exile, and “exile is not redemption, no matter how sweet it is.” (Rabbi Pinchas Winston)
As stated at the end of the parsha “and among the nations that you will be scattered” ( if you do not hold by the Covenant of the Torah ) , “among those nations you will not be tranquil; there will be no rest for the sole of your foot” Deut. 64-65
In Megillat Eicha we read “She dwelled complacently among the nations and did not contemplate returning to Eretz Yisroel, but among the other nations she found no rest. “
I believe that today we do not have the luxury of time to return to the land of Israel . Those of you who currently dwell “peacefully” in the diaspora would do well to learn from history and return home of your own choosing, and not as the result of unpleasant external pressures. Fulfill your destiny! Be a light onto the nations! Hatzlocha on your journey here! We are waiting for you, and a beautiful , fulfilling life awaits you here!