Parshat Ki Tavo
“V’haya Ki Tavo el Ha’aretz” – “When you come into the Land”. (Dvarim 26:1)
Being that this parsha falls on the birth date of the Holy Baal Shem Tov, the father of Chassidut, and of the Alter Rebbe, I want to open a window to a Chassidic teaching pertaining to the above passuk. It is likened to when a soul descends from it’s heavenly source ‘into the land’- into this physical world to fulfill it’s purpose.
Am Yisrael was delivered from Egypt and wandered the domain of the empty desert where nothing was accessible and nothing was needed. They nursed Divine inspiration for 40 years. They did not have to eat, change their clothes or worry about a thing. Finally they reached their destination. Their guide and leader did not continue on with them, the manna stopped falling and a new realm of their identity unfolded as they entered the gates of the Land of Israel through the mountains of Har Gerizzim and Har Eval. Here they faced the call to choose between the blessing and the curse. They walked 60 kilometers from the Jordan to these mountains, to the Land of Shechem, a place their forefathers had purchased at the dawn of Judaism. Here was the first “station” of being inaugurated for the 1st Patriarch, Abraham. Here is the parcel of land Jacob bought as he first entered the land with his family after 22 years in the house of Lavan. Here, as they come to receive the torah in Israel, Am Yisrael now put to a final rest, Yosef Hatzaddik in the land that he was sold by his brothers. Am Yisrael are positioned on the 2 scales of Gerizzim and Eval and the blessings and curses are read. Now it was time to actualize G-d’s plan for them. This was the very special day they were motivated to so accordingly.
Blessings and curses in essence we bring upon ourselves. There is free choice and there are mitzvoth to do. It does not contradict. We can be blessed if we acknowledge the vitality in our lives, to know and understand what make us tick. We can also be prevented from being cursed if we just check to see how the word meaningful measures into the pitcher we pour and drink from each day. When we read Ki Tavo we think to ourselves, “Who am I, What am I, What am I doing, Am I REALLY alive? There is no greater curse than to be alive and not feel it. This parsha is positioned precisely at the time we need to hear it, close to the Day of Judgment and the beginning of a new cycle in our lives as we approach the New Year. It is clearly a time to ask, “Have I fulfilled my purpose and how have I enriched the world?”
It goes without saying that facing these very mountains written about in our parsha, and seeing them every day for the last 24 years while most people only read about them- has been a tremendous G-d given gift. Yes, today we have reached this point again as we enter the Land and try to settle it. It is spoken about with many many husks, doubts, confusion, and strife, even as if it belonged to someone else (G-d forbid!). It is in fact none of the above. It is the primordial covenant between G-d and the Jewish people. May the Torah prove to the entire world that we cannot ever run from the truth. May all the people who hold Israel dear – raise the banner of Har Gerizzim and Har Eval – they have chosen to be blessed!!
Shabbat Shalom, Leah Goldsmith