Sedra of the week: Ki Tavo

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Sedra of the week: Ki Tavo

Rabbi Ariel Abel looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

Rabbi Ariel Abel

Rabbi Ariel Abel is based in Liverpool

This week we read about first fruits. The first produce of orchards is dedicated to the Temple or to the poor of Jerusalem depending on the year in the agricultural cycle. It is no coincidence that the centrEpiece of donating the first fruits is a “confession” in the Temple. 

The confession is a reflection of history concerning Laban, the father-in-law of Jacob. He is referred to as the “Aramean”, who “practically destroyed our father”. The physical continuity of our people is thus symbolised by the first produce yielded agriculturally.

The command is given to transcribe the Torah on to big stones once the Israelites cross the river Jordan. 

Multi-lingual access to the Torah on the web are the modern lime-covered stones which were set and translated into many languages for the benefit of any foreigners who otherwise would have no idea what the Torah says. It is a Jewish responsibility to disseminate the words of the Torah to the world.

The people are also instructed to prepare themselves for an event on the mountains of Gerizim and Eval in North Samaria. This took place some years later after the initial conquest of Canaan. 

During this event, the 12 tribes of Israel split into two camps. The camp on Mount Gerizim is said to have “blessed” the people but in fact the tribe of Levi is among that group to issue warnings cursing anyone who dares to practise evil against his follow human being. The tribes who answer “Amen” are situated on the opposite mountainside. 

It is remarkable that severe admonitions can be called “blessings”, but an admonition can be a blessing if the hearer will now take greater care and not fall into danger in the first place.

In this spirit the portion finishes one of two “reproaches” to be found in the Torah.

  •   Rabbi Ariel Abel is based in Liverpool

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