offering of first fruits (illustration from a Bible card
published between 1896 and 1913 by the
Providence Lithograph Company)
This time of year, we transition from summer into fall. In this week's Torah portion, the Israelites prepare to transition from being a wandering people to a settled one--and receive the rituals to help make the change.
For most individuals, transitions from one life stage to another present both opportunities and challenges. Imagine what they are like when applied to the life-stages of a people. This week's parashah, Ki Tavo, continues the people's preparation for changing from the state of wandering to that of being settled on the land. Ritual is created to cement this transition and to remind us of our current and former conditions. MORE>
Moses instructs the Israelites regarding the first fruit offering; Moses then lists the blessings for keeping the commandments and the punishments for disobeying them.
Moses continues his last speech before the Israelites, "When you dwell in the promised land, take a selection of the first fruits and bring them to the place God chooses for God's Name. With a priest you shall make an offering saying, 'We remember when we were slaves in Egypt. We remember how God brought us to freedom with a strong hand and outstretched arm, with signs and miracles. You, God brought, us to this land flowing with milk and honey. And now I have brought these first fruits that you, God, have given me.'MORE
* KOOK *
by Richard Schwartz, Ph.D.
The strongest support for vegetarianism as a positive ideal anywhere in Torah literature is in the writings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook (1865-1935). Rav Kook was the first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel and a highly respected and beloved Jewish spiritual leader in the early 20th century. He was a mystical thinker, a forceful writer, and a great Torah scholar.
Rav Kook was a very prolific writer who helped inspire many people to move toward spiritual paths. He urged religious people to become involved in social questions and efforts to improve the world. His powerful words on vegetarianism are found primarily in A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace (edited by Rabbi David Cohen, "The Nazir"). More
The haftarah selection is from Isaiah 60:1-22.
This is the penultimate haftarah between Tisha B'Av and Rosh Hashanah; the seven-week period when haftarot of consolation are read in synagogue. All these haftarot, including this week's, feature comforting themes for a nation traumatized by the destruction of the Temple and the exile.In the haftarah for Ki Tavo, Isaiah focuses on images of light to remind the people that though they may be experiencing a dark time, God's countenance and light will eventually return. The first verse of the haftarah typifies this: "Arise, shine, for your light has dawned; the Presence of the Lord has shone upon you!" (60:1) This line has famously been adapted for use in Lekha Dodi, a song that is part of the Friday night liturgy, sung to greet the Sabbath queen.
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