Ki Tavo

Ki Tavo – we shift from “when you leave” last week to “when you come in” this week. And we are instructed as to what we should do when we come into the Land – which is our inheritance, our nachalah. Coincidentally, on Shabbat morning there were a number of articles in the paper about inheritance – should children of wealthy parents inherit that wealth – or not? Is inheritance something achieved after the fact or do we ready ourselves for an inheritance prior to the fact?

As we consider this question, we read on in Torah and note that entering – and inheriting the land – is tied to the mitzvah of giving of the first fruits, the bikkurim. There is also discussion about what coming into the Land – possession – means. Are these mitzvot only applicable when Israel settles into the Land or is there a spiritual readiness for that relationship with the Land and with the gifts of that Land that must be entered into prior to such possession – as advocated by Rabbi Akiva.

Rabbi Akiva’s interpretation joins a long exegetical tradition which, over generations, turned “the land of Israel” into an idea, an aspiration, a goal. This interpretation can perhaps be understood against the background of the political reality that prevailed for many years, in which the Jews did not live in the land of Israel, and were not independent politically. In order to maintain relevance, the Jewish tradition transformed the mitzvot into rituals that were relevant even without fulfilling the condition of sovereign Jewish life in the land. The commentators thus managed to preserve a core notion within Jewish tradition, which might have led to an untenable breach within its confines, by investing it with new meaning.

We have inherited much from our tradition, from our parents and families – and ideally we have much to give and to pass on. Our teachings are a precious jewel. How do we pass them on to our generations to come? What do we each contribute towards the sustenance of those gifts?

I wish all of us good health and meaningful reflections and repairing of loose threads and establishing of order during this month as we come in to Rosh Hashanah.

Kein yihe ratzon,

Rabbi Lynn