In this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tavo, Mosheh speaks reflectively, instructing the Israelites, as they approach the Promised Land at the end of their 40-year journey through the wilderness, with the commandment of bikkurim, first fruits. Once you’ve entered the land that G‑d is giving to you, you must bring the first fruits of your harvest to the Holy Temple to express your gratitude for all that G‑d has done for you. A reminder to pause and show gratitude for the greatness that surrounds us before diving in and enjoying Rosh Hashanah, and the joy of creation. Also, the laws of the “maaser” tithes that is given to the Levites and to the poor, and the blessings from observance and curses, tochechah, from violation of the law, are included.
The first offering of fruits historically happened at Shavuot, and as the crops continue to grow and bloom through the summer, and during Sukkot, we are commanded to present another offering from our harvest when the farm is at its peak.
Parshat Ki Tavo falls on the week of the 18th of Elul, known as chai Elul, twelve days before Rosh Hashanah. Each day represents one of the twelve months of the year. Each day is an opportunity to look back and to review all the things we have thought, said, and done in the past year. During the month of Elul, as we’re reflecting on the way we were, the way we are, and the way we would like to be, as a preparation for the coming Day of Judgement, ראש השנה, and Day of Atonement, יום כיפור
How Do You Know What You Think You Know? What is knowing? Knowing is defined as the state of being aware or informed, “done in full awareness or consciousness.” Friedrich Nietzsche once said: “There are no facts, only interpretations”, people very often confuse their interpretations with the facts. Epistemology, is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion. According to this account, one can only claim that one’s belief counts as knowledge if the belief is in fact true and one is justified in believing that it’s true.
to know, eyes to see and ears to hear.”
וְלֹֽא־נָתַן֩ יְהֹוָ֨ה לָכֶ֥ם לֵב֙ לָדַ֔עַת וְעֵינַ֥יִם לִרְא֖וֹת וְאָזְנַ֣יִם לִשְׁמֹ֑עַ עַ֖ד הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה:
“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”-Leonardo da Vinci
In Ki Tavo, Mosheh also tells the Israelites that only now, after forty years in the wilderness, have they attained “a heart to know, eyes to see, and ears to hear.” May we all strive to listen, to see, to know, and to celebrate with all our senses. Kol tuv.
6 Mitzvot in parashat Ki Tavo
1. To read the Torah portion pertaining to their presentation Deut. 26:5269.
2. To read the confession of tithes every fourth and seventh year Deut. 26:13262.
3. Not to spend its redemption money on anything but food, drink, or ointment Deut. 26:14263.
4. Not to eat Ma’aser Sheni while impure Deut. 26:14264.
5. A mourner on the first day after death must not eat Ma’aser Sheni Deut. 26:1411.
6. To emulate His ways Deut. 28:9