It doesn't finish even if it seems so

Parsha and its Implementation – Ki Tavoh - Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald - 5779

A long-awaited look at something to happen, a long-term effort to achieve some goal or fulfill some ideology means, that when it happens or when it´s reached, it seems that we can finally rest, and the results can be enjoyed sitting calmly and resting on the laurels. Sometimes when the ideology has been fulfilled, there is a tendency to lose ideological tension to the point of indolent hedonism and denial of ideology on its behalf.

The greater the expectation, the greater the effort on the way to the destination, or the achievement, the greater the tendency is. However, many times this is not a final goal, but an intermediate point that, that even after achieving it must not go into complacency, must rise the "day after", with mental strength and continue. We must not lose the ideological tension. We have to remember that 'it doesn't end, even when it seems to be over'!

In this week's Torah Parasha, upon entering Israel, the Torah commands to erect a stone altar upon which the Torah commandments will be written:

וַהֲקֵמֹתָ֤ לָ֑ךְ נֹתֵ֣ן אֱלֹהֶ֖יך ד' אֲשֶׁר אֶל־הָאָ֕רֶץ אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּן֒ תַּעַבְר֣וּ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בַּיּוֹם֮ וְהָיָ֗ה

הַתּוֹרָ֥ה אֶֽת־כָּל־דִּבְרֵ֛י עֲלֵיהֶ֗ן וְכָתַבְתָּ֣ בַּשִּֽׂיד׃ אֹתָ֖ם וְשַׂדְתָּ֥ גְּדֹל֔וֹת אֲבָנִ֣ים לְךָ֙

זָבַ֤ת ארץ לְךָ֗ נֹתֵ֣ן אֱלֹהֶ֣יךָ ד שֶׁראֲ אֶל־הָאָ֜רֶץ תָּבֹ֨א אֲשֶׁר֩ לְמַ֡עַן בְּעָבְרֶ֑ךָ הַזֹּ֖את

לָֽךְ׃ אֱלֹהֵֽי־אֲבֹתֶ֖יךָ ד דִּבֶּ֛ר כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר וּדְבַ֔שׁ חָלָב֙

הֵיטֵֽב׃ בַּאֵ֥ר הַזֹּ֖את הַתּוֹרָ֥ה אֶֽת־כָּל־דִּבְרֵ֛י עַל־הָאֲבָנִ֗ים וְכָתַבְתָּ֣

“As soon as you have crossed the Jordan into the land that Hashem your G-d is giving you, you shall set up large stones. Coat them with plaster and inscribe upon them all the words of this Teaching. When you cross over to enter the land that Hashem your G-d is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as Hashem, the G-d of your fathers, promised you… And on those stones you shall inscribe every word of this Teaching most distinctly. (Devarim 27:2- 8).

The commentaries are divided. What part of the Torah was to be written on the stones? And how much space was there for their writing? (Some interpreted that indeed all the Torah was written there (or the stones were especially large - Ramban ibid), or the entire Torah from Bereshit (Daat Mikra ibid), or only a short set of the 613 Mitzvot was written there (R´ Saadia Gaon and Ibn Ezra ibid), or general Parshiot such as "Kriat Shema", or the blessings and curses (Ralbag on Yehoshua 8:31).

Another opinion is in the Gemara -Sotah 32a: Probably at the heart of the controversy was the question of the purpose of the writing: whether to remind the commandments or to mention the foundations of Torah and faith. Either way, the altar was a striking and impressive monument that reminds the Torah commandments or its essentials in the best possible way.

What does it mean to erect the altar and write the Torah near the entrance to the land? What is it for?

According to our Parasha – in merit of the written things on the altar, the people of Israel will receive the inheritance of the land: "When you cross over to enter the land that Hashem your G-d is giving you". Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (RSRH) interpreted that this duty was to be carried out immediately on entering the country without delay: "As soon as you cross the Jordan you will engage in the erection of the stones for the purpose of the Torah, and it will be found that you will begin to erect them before the crossing is completed, since only through the erection of these stones will you be able to cross the Jordan and come to the Promised Land". (ibid)

It might be it was meant to stand in front of the people of Israel´s eyes as the Covenant on Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal upon entering Israel at the inauguration of the altar.

The entry into the Land after the long desert period and the long-awaited expectation is an intermediate stage and does not constitute a completion of the spiritual process that the people of Israel are supposed to shape in the land. The fear was that upon entering the country there would be a feeling of rest and settlement, that everyone would turn to dwell under his own vine and under his own fig tree (according to Melachim I 5:5).

And as a result, the spiritual and ideological tension and commitment to Torah and commandments would decrease.

"וישמן ישורון ויבעט. שמנת עבית כשית ויטוש אלוה עשהו וינבל צור ישועתו"

As it says in the song: ¨So Jeshurun grew fat and kicked— You grew fat and gross and coarse— He forsook the G-d who made him And spurned the Rock of his support¨. (Devarim 32:15)

The written Torah and special status are meant to express that "It is not over, even when it seems to be over!" And so the tension will continue for days and years, and the goal will be achieved.

These words were written even before the fateful election results were published. But will be read after them. Need to keep in mind that the elections, whatever their results, are not the final goal. They are an intermediate stage that builds and allows for tools.

After that, however, there is still much work to be done on the way to fulfill the spiritual and ideological goals of the Jewish people in their own country. This requires a great deal of patience and a lot of mental strength.

Parshat Ki Tavo – Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald

Our Parsha opens with the Mitzvah of Bikurim, an agricultural Mitzvah unique to Eretz Israel, which entails bringing the first fruits of our agricultural labors to Beit HaMikdash. "And you will take from the first of every fruit which you will bring from your land, which the Lord your G-d gives you, and you will put them in a basket, and you will go to the place which the Lord your G-d will choose to make His name dwell there." (Devarim 26:1)
Immediately following are the Mitzvot of Biur Maasrot and Vidui Maasrot, which complete our obligation to separate from the produce of the field those parts which we must give to the Cohen, the Levi and the poor, or to bring up to Jerusalem.
Further in the Parsha are the blessings and the curses, where great emphasis is placed on the strategic aspects of agriculture. The blessings, merited by keeping the Torah, will be economic abundance that will come to the nation, mainly in the form of agricultural plenty: "Blessed will be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land…blessed will be your basket and your kneading bowl...G-d will command the blessing upon your storehouse and all you that put hour hand to, and will bless you in the Land…" (Devarim 28:3-8) The blessing will also come by way of blessed rains: "G-d will open for you His good treasure, the sky, to give the rain of your land in time and to bless all the work of your hand…"(Devarim 28:12)
And the curses, as punishment for not keeping the Torah, damage the strategic factors of the nation's existence, primarily agricultural produce: "Cursed you will be in the city and cursed you will be in the field. Cursed will be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land." (Devarim 28:17) The Torah warns of a death-blow to agriculture by pests: "G-d will strike you with tuberculosis, with fever…with the black blight and the yellow blight…You will bring much seed to the field and collect little because the locust will decimate it…you will plant vineyards and work them, and will not drink wine or harvest them because the worm will devour it. You will have olive trees in all your borders but will not use their oil because the olives will drop off. All your trees and fruits of your land will be stricken by the cricket. (Devarim 28 :22-42) And an additional hard strategic blow to agriculture: the farmers won't be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor because the produce will fall to the enemy: "The fruit of your land and all your labors will be eaten by a nation which you don't know…G-d will bring upon you a nation from far away, from the end of the earth…and will eat the fruit of your flocks and the fruit of your land, until you will be destroyed, and will not leave you grain, wine or oil.." This principle is repeated daily in the parsha "VeHaya Im Shamoa."
Since the dawn of history, agriculture has been one of the key factors of human existence. It is the major source of food for private households, as well as at the national strategic level. It put in motion the wheels of economy of local and international markets. The increase of agricultural production made possible an increase in the world population. Over the years, the percentage of agricultural produce as part of gross national product worldwide is decreasing in comparison to new fields of industry and high-tech. Nevertheless, it still represents the source of employment and income for a very high percentage of the world's population, more than any other industry (about 40%).
In the era of high-tech, agriculture is another field that invites new and creative technological development, to improve the effectiveness of the produce, cope with scarcity of water, combat pests and develop new varieties of crops.
Agriculture has additional effects on national strategy. "The concept 'Israel' includes everything: the physical, external side: economy and agriculture, army and security, society and all the other things pertaining to Israeli nationhood…" (Sichot HaRav Zvi Yehudah Kook, Parshat Devarim 5733)
The working of the land creates a powerful connection of man to his land, a form of putting down deep and strong roots. The farmer develops an interactive relationship with the land. He tends to it and utilizes its resources wisely. Agriculture conserves the national reserves of land across the country. Agriculture in border areas often acts as a security factor, in the spirit of Trumpeldor's slogan: "Where the plow will pass, there the border will pass."
Additionally, Jewish agriculture has a unique dimension: "Agriculture of all the nations is only a necessary and simple economic force, but the nation which its entire subject is the Holy of Holies, and its land, and its language, and all its values are all holy, since it in its entirety fill the holy expression of all of mankind and all of creation. And in every place, holy elixir-light, radiating blessing, are only branches of the trunk of its planting. So all of its agriculture as well is permeated with holiness." (Rav Kook, Ma'amarei HaRaya, part 1, page 179)
The special holiness of Eretz Israel is expressed in several forms: in the holiness of its fruits and the mitzvot specific to the land, in the obligation to let the land rest during Shemittah, and in the mitzvah to grow "and bring out its holy fruits." (Chatam Sofer on Succah) "It is proper to say that all the three festivals correspond to the agricultural reality in Eretz Israel. Thus are their names in the Torah: The Festival of the Spring, the Festival of Harvesting and the Festival of Gathering. The actual, tangible, public agriculturality of Am Israel in Eretz Israel is entirely holy. There is a correlation and unity, of the agricultural circumstance in Eretz Israel, and the very essence of these holy days." (HaRav Zvi Yehudah Kook, "Mitoch HaTorah HaGoelet, part 4 ch.2) The parsha of the curses, and the blow to agriculture, as punishment for Am Israel's sins, is the result of defectiveness in the holiness that is supposed to be expressed by the bringing out of its holy fruits.
The sanctified importance of agriculture in Israel may be the reason that the Torah emphasized the fact that the "occupation" of the nation's fathers was agriculture!

Parshat Ki Tavo – Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald


Our parsha opens with the mitzvah of Bikurim, an agricultural mitzvah unique to Eretz Israel, which entails bringing the first fruits of our agricultural labors to Beit HaMikdash. "And you will take from the first of every fruit which you will bring from your land, which the Lord your G-d gives you, and you will put them in a basket, and you will go to the place which the Lord your G-d will choose to make His name dwell there." (Devarim 26:1)
Immediately following are the mitzvot of Biur Maasrot and Vidui Maasrot, which complete our obligation to separate from the produce of the field those parts which we must give to the Cohen, the Levi and the poor, or to bring up to Jerusalem.
Further in the parsha are the blessings and the curses, where great emphasis is placed on the strategic aspects of agriculture. The blessings, merited by keeping the Torah, will be economic abundance that will come to the nation, mainly in the form of agricultural plenty: "Blessed will be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land…blessed will be your basket and your kneading bowl...G-d will command the blessing upon your storehouse and all you that put hour hand to, and will bless you in the Land…" (Devarim 28:3-8) The blessing will also come by way of blessed rains: "G-d will open for you His good treasure, the sky, to give the rain of your land in time and to bless all the work of your hand…"(Devarim 28:12)
And the curses, as punishment for not keeping the Torah, damage the strategic factors of the nation's existence, primarily agricultural produce: "Cursed you will be in the city and cursed you will be in the field. Cursed will be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land." (Devarim 28:17) The Torah warns of a death-blow to agriculture by pests: "G-d will strike you with tuberculosis, with fever…with the black blight and the yellow blight…You will bring much seed to the field and collect little because the locust will decimate it…you will plant vineyards and work them, and will not drink wine or harvest them because the worm will devour it. You will have olive trees in all your borders but will not use their oil because the olives will drop off. All your trees and fruits of your land will be stricken by the cricket. (Devarim 28 :22-42) And an additional hard strategic blow to agriculture: the farmers won't be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor because the produce will fall to the enemy: "The fruit of your land and all your labors will be eaten by a nation which you don't know…G-d will bring upon you a nation from far away, from the end of the earth…and will eat the fruit of your flocks and the fruit of your land, until you will be destroyed, and will not leave you grain, wine or oil.." This principle is repeated daily in the parsha "VeHaya im shamoa."
Since the dawn of history, agriculture has been one of the key factors of human existence. It is the major source of food for private households, as well as at the national strategic level. It put in motion the wheels of economy of local and international markets. The increase of agricultural production made possible an increase in the world population. Over the years, the percentage of agricultural produce as part of gross national product worldwide is decreasing in comparison to new fields of industry and high-tech. Nevertheless, it still represents the source of employment and income for a very high percentage of the world's population, more than any other industry (about 40%).
In the era of high-tech, agriculture is another field that invites new and creative technological development, to improve the effectiveness of the produce, cope with scarcity of water, combat pests and develop new varieties of crops.
Agriculture has additional effects on national strategy. "The concept 'Israel' includes everything: the physical, external side: economy and agriculture, army and security, society and all the other things pertaining to Israeli nationhood…" (Sichot HaRav Zvi Yehudah Kook, parshat Devarim 5733)
The working of the land creates a powerful connection of man to his land, a form of putting down deep and strong roots. The farmer develops an interactive relationship with the land. He tends to it and utilizes its resources wisely. Agriculture conserves the national reserves of land across the country. Agriculture in border areas often acts as a security factor, in the spirit of Trumpeldor's slogan: "Where the plow will pass, there the border will pass."
Additionally, Jewish agriculture has a unique dimension: "Agriculture of all the nations is only a necessary and simple economic force, but the nation which its entire subject is the Holy of Holies, and its land, and its language, and all its values are all holy, since it in its entirety fill the holy expression of all of mankind and all of creation. And in every place, holy elixir-light, radiating blessing, are only branches of the trunk of its planting. So all of its agriculture as well is permeated with holiness." (Rav Kook, Ma'amarei HaRaya, part 1, page 179)
The special holiness of Eretz Israel is expressed in several forms: in the holiness of its fruits and the mitzvot specific to the land, in the obligation to let the land rest during Shemittah, and in the mitzvah to grow "and bring out its holy fruits." (Chatam Sofer on Succah) "It is proper to say that all the three festivals correspond to the agricultural reality in Eretz Israel. Thus are their names in the Torah: The Festival of the Spring, the Festival of Harvesting and the Festival of Gathering. The actual, tangible, public agriculturality of Am Israel in Eretz Israel is entirely holy. There is a correlation and unity, of the agricultural circumstance in Eretz Israel, and the very essence of these holy days." (HaRav Zvi Yehudah Kook, "Mitoch HaTorah HaGoelet, part 4 ch.2) The parsha of the curses, and the blow to agriculture, as punishment for Am Israel's sins, is the result of defectiveness in the holiness that is supposed to be expressed by the bringing out of its holy fruits.
The sanctified importance of agriculture in Israel may be the reason that the Torah emphasized the fact that the "occupation" of the nation's fathers was agriculture!

Don't have an account yet? Register Now!

Sign in to your account