Ki Tavo

  1. Again and again this offering emphasizes “the fruit of the ground.” Why? In addition, we bring the fruit of the ground because Hashem brought us to a land of Milk and Honey – neither of which is a fruit of anything. Why? If we look at prior references to the “trees” (as opposed to the ground) we see the trees are a symbol of Hashem’s gift. We don’t plant them, we just inherit them. Likewise the milk and honey are gifts of Hashem. The only produce we grow from our own labor is the fruit of the ground. When we bring this offering – it is important that it be ours to best show our gratitude.
  2. There is a new word here in the English phrase “Gaze down from your holy habitation, from heaven”. In English the word is translated as habitation. In Hebrew it is mimaon. But I’ve looked for possible roots and only one comes up: Eyin-Vav-Nun. It refers to time. Whether we are talking about a Holy time or Holy Habitation we’re talking about place-time without creation or destruction – where spiritual energy is realized from prior creation. It is heaven. It is a bridge from Hashem’s makom to our risk-filled reality. By supporting the service of Hashem, supporting those who face real-world risks and keeping our tithes far from death we see we can tap into the power of Kedusha.
  3. Here we have another word in an unusual context elyon. The Jews are called a treasured nation before and a chosen nation, but never a supreme (elyon) nation. In fact, this term only refers to Hashem (with one exception where it is used in the baker’s dreams and there it might be pointing out that the most-high bread of the Egyptians is still subject to birds). It is a weird term for Hashem – Hashem is the only G-d. Doesn’t calling him elyon mean there are others? Interestingly, Malchizedek coined it. But here, it is applied to the Jewish people. Why and what does it mean?
  4. Why do we plaster the stones? Because it would be very very hard to carve the words of the Torah on raw stones. They aren’t flat and there are 83,000 words! When we plaster them, we flatten them. We take what nature has given and we have to modify it to make Torah fit on to it. The same could be said about us – we can fit Torah into ourselves when we plaster over our rough edges.
    1. Note that Moshe has now finished his tremendously long speech. It started with talking about responsibility and ends with the possibility of us being a supreme nation.
  5. Now we have a list of curses. Or so it seems. But there is a hard stop between each one. Why? Because after each curse (which is aimed at individuals) the people say amen. They confine the curse to the individual so the curses don’t achieve “runaway momentum.” Through this process the nation plasters the stones of the people to write the Torah upon itself.
  6. Here we have blessings and curses without breaks. They are national blessings or national crimes without the people interrupting “amen” and so they flow one on top of the other. Near the end of the blessings we see Hashem opening up his treasury – heaven. Earlier in this parsha we saw it defined as the time of Kedusha. Just as we maximize Kedusha through creative work we also maximize creative work through Kedusha and we see that in action here. Blessings literally rain down on us when we open this connection.
  7. The Torah says, “Yet until this day, the Lord has not given you a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear.” What else gets that description? Idols. Until this day, we were like false gods. If we go back we see ourselves being described as elyon a nation above all others. The other nations are like stone idols – they do not have a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear. They have a goy, a collection of people who might have these things as Malchizedek did. But their nations lack these characteristics. Until now we were like them. But as we take on our own responsibilities, commit the fruits of our own labor to building the connection to Kedusha and plaster over our national faults to write the Torah upon ourselves, we achieve an incomparably different level. Torah and its life, awareness and power become imbedded in the reality of our nation. We come to life spiritually – as a nation. Beyond these broad strokes, I can’t explain this transition.

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