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Ki Tavo 5764

Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8 )

by Kalman Packouz

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GOOD MORNING!   A young man was in the hospital. The doctor gathered his brothers and told them that they should prepare their mother because the young man would not live through the night. The brothers were afraid to tell their mother. They were afraid of what the shock would to her own frail health. But, they were totally unprepared for her burst of anger, "Says who?" asks the mother. "The doctor? He's not God! He doesn't know who will live and who will die!" She then took her book of Tehillim (Psalms) and through the night recited the Psalms with heartfelt tears and trust in the Almighty. In the morning the doctor came out of the intensive care ward and told the family, "It's a miracle! I don't understand it, but he's going to live!"

What is Tehillim? Literally, the translation is "praises." King David compiled and wrote most of the Psalms - from the depths of the soul, expressions of thoughts, emotions, yearnings and needs which we humans would wish to express, but perhaps can't articulate. Throughout the world many Jews recite the Book of Psalms each week or each month. It is common that a Book of Psalms will print the divisions if one wishes to recite equal portions to finish it in a week or in a month. In times of trouble Jews get together and collectively recite Psalms so that on the merit of reciting Psalms the Almighty should grant a speedy healing for someone who is sick or grant mercy on Jews who are suffering or facing extinction. When Jews were held hostage in Entebbe or when Israel is at war, Jews gather to recite Psalms and pour out their hearts to the Almighty for mercy. Many Yeshivot and synagogues recite Psalms (especially Psalms 20, 83, 121, 130, 142 -you can download them for free from daily for the protection of Jews in Israel from terrorism.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin has just come out with his newest book - Growth Through Tehillim - Exploring Psalms for Life Transforming Thoughts (this and his other 17 books are available at your local Jewish bookstore, at or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242). Rabbi Pliskin writes in his introduction:

"In times of darkness and distress, verses of Tehillim are a light to our souls. They are an antidote to discouragement and despair. They console and give hope. They raise our sights. Throughout the ages when our ancestors faced challenges, whether relatively minor ones or serious life-threatening challenges, the holy verses have been a source of encouragement and support. They have provided inner strength in the past, and continue to do so in the present.

"Tehillim is the ultimate work that connects us experientially with our loving Father and All-powerful King, Creator and Sustainer of the universe. We connect with our loving Eternal Father with our profound appreciation for all of His many kindnesses to us personally and to the entire world.

"In Tehillim we express many diverse needs: Needs for healing, for being saved from harm, for release from deep emotional pain and distress, and also the need to enrich our positive experiences by realizing that they are gifts from the Source of all Kindness. Thanking Him for those gifts exponentially multiplies the value of those gifts. They are no longer material and temporal. They become spiritual assets that nourish our eternal soul.

"There are times in life when a person feels that 'nothing can be done' to change a dire situation. But there is always something that we can do: we can connect with our Father and King in heartfelt prayer. We can pray in our own words after we repeat the sublime, uplifting words that were Divinely inspired and sanctified in Tehillim. Reciting Psalms elevates us and opens our hearts. The personal prayers we say afterwards follow our greater awareness of our connection with the One Who can answer our prayers."

When I was a young man in Yeshiva (Talmudic academy) I had the opportunity to meet with Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg, of blessed memory, who was one of the great men of our generation. I asked him, "How does one create a stronger emotional connection to the Almighty?" He replied, "Read Tehillim." For the next year I religiously read Tehillim. When I met with him again I expressed that I didn't feel that it was working. He thought for a moment and then smiled a kindly smile and said, "You have to know what you're reading." Rabbi Pliskin has given us a work to help us gain a greater understanding of what Psalms can mean to us. He selects verses and helps us understand how we can come closer, more connected to the Almighty!

Torah Portion of the Week
Ki Tavo

This week's portion includes: Bringing to the Temple as an offering the first fruits of the Seven Species special to the Land of Israel, Declaration of tithes, the Almighty designating the Jewish people as His treasured people (Deut. 26:16 -19), the command to set up in the Jordan River and then on Mount Ebal large stones which had the Torah written upon them in 70 languages, the command to have a public ratification of the acceptance of the Law from Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal; the Torah then sets forth the blessings for following the Law and the curses for not following it, and concludes with Moshe's final discourse. Verse 28:46 tells us the importance of serving the Almighty with "joy and a good heart." The last verse of the portion instructs us:

"You shall fulfill the words of this covenant and do them so that you will succeed in all that you do!"


Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And now I brought the first fruit of the Land which the Almighty gave me, and you shall place it before the Almighty, your God, and you shall bow down before the Almighty, your God." (Deuteronomy 26:10)

We do not find the idea of bowing down to the Almighty mentioned with regards to other commandments. Why is it mentioned here in the bringing of the first fruits?

Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz teaches us that the whole concept of bringing the first fruits to the Bais HaMikdosh (the Holy Temple in Jerusalem) is to show gratitude to the Almighty for all that He has given. It is an expression of our awareness that everything we have is a gift from the Almighty. Therefore, the Torah mentions that we bow down to the Almighty, which symbolizes our total submission to His will because all that we have is from Him. This applies to our material as well as our intellectual achievements.

Be grateful to the Almighty for all that you understand in Torah and any novel ideas that He has blessed you with.

The greater your awareness that all you have is a gift from the Almighty, the more you will appreciate it. As many commentators point out, a small gift from a very distinguished and important dignitary is a precious possession. The greater the giver, the more you treasure what you were given. When you live with the reality that all you have is a gift from the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, you will immensely enjoy everything you have!


"L'Chaim - To Life Spiritual Journey" through Prague, Warsaw, Krakow, Auschwitz and Birkenau. Be one of 18 people to accompany Elie Wiesel October 17-22, 2004. Cost: $15,000 per person. For further information, contact Jerusalem Fund director, Rabbi Irwin Katsof, 212-269-3425.


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Age doesn't always bring wisdom;
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With Special Thanks to
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for their dedication

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