Ki Tavo 5779

September 15, 2019

7 min read


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

GOOD MORNING!  Many parts of the world are getting slammed with torrential weather -- particularly the East Coast of the USA from hurricane Dorian. About 5 years ago many parts of the USA suffered relentless rain and flooding. One particularly hard hit area was Oak Park, Michigan -- a suburb of Detroit. Homes were flooded, basements filled with water and virtually everything in them was ruined -- furniture, books, storage boxes, old files. After the flood the residents saved what they could save. As for the rest, they took what was waterlogged, moldy or ruined to the street to await the sanitation department's trucks to haul away. The street looked like a war zone for 9 days!

Finally, the trucks came and cleared the streets of the refuse. One resident, Saul A. Rube, Dean of Judaic Studies at the Hillel Day School, joined his wife Jennifer at the curb in front of his home to ensure that everything was removed. When he looked down, he saw an envelope on the ground with his name written on it ... in his father's handwriting!

Saul picked up the envelope and was a bit shaken. His father had passed away 12 years previously. When he opened the envelope he was even more shaken -- it was a birthday card from his parents ... and that day, August 20th, was his birthday!

Quipped Saul with a twinkle in his eye, "I'm only glad that when I read it, my father didn't write, 'Looking forward to seeing you soon!'"

"If truth is stranger than fiction, it is because it has a better and more creative author" -- Jeff Forsythe.

Stories like Saul's make it obvious to us that there is more to life than randomness or coincidence -- that the Almighty runs the world. The problem is that when we look at the bigger picture, we don't always like what we see. We have a limited perspective and limited understanding. Sometimes what we intellectually know does not sit well with our emotions.

The same year we saw an amazing chain of events: Three Israeli boys were kidnapped by Hamas, the parents unified the Jews of Israel and the world for 18 days with their pleas for prayers and unity ... then the bodies of the boys were found. A crazy man killed an Arab boy in retaliation and the Arabs rioted -- ambushing buses, ripping up light rail tracks ... and Hamas started shooting rockets into Israel aiming for civilian targets.

The Israelis called up the troops and moved them to the border of Gaza warning Hamas to stop firing missiles or we will be forced to make them stop. The world started waving its finger at Israel warning them not to take action, the UN revved up its gears to start a flow of condemnations and sanctions, the media positioned their resources to report on the situation -- and then the Israeli soldiers went into Gaza -- and found the first terror tunnels which were intended to be used on Rosh Hashana to kidnap and kill thousands of Israelis -- particularly women and children.

What is our lesson? The Almighty runs the world. He is protecting us. We have a covenant with the Almighty. If we want to strengthen Israel and the Jewish people, we must strengthen ourselves in our observance of the Torah and upholding that covenant -- and in loving each other. It is a simple equation and anyone who reads and thinks about Jewish history can clearly see the pattern.

Right now Israel is facing existential threats from all sides. Our actions have the power to help -- to create the merit for the Almighty to intervene and protect us.

It is up to us to increase our observance of the Almighty's commandments - Shabbat, Kashruth, learning Torah and especially prayer -- which makes us aware of our relationship with and dependence upon our Creator. The Almighty is our loving Father. He wants us on the right path to be a holy nation and light unto the world. He will not allow us to be destroyed … and he will not allow us to totally assimilate. He wants our return to His ways. Reading To Be a Jew by Rabbi Hayim Donin can help each of us know what more to do to fulfill our destiny as Jews.


Torah Portion of the Week

Ki Tavo, 26:1 - 29:8

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!"

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Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

In this week's Torah portion:

"...the Almighty lists the many blessings that one receives for fulfilling the mitzvot, the commandments. Unlike other religions which promise reward in the World to Come, the Torah only speaks of this world rewards -- blessings of food in your storehouse, peace from your enemies, healthy offspring."

The Torah goes further than listing the blessings, it states:

"And it will come to you all of these blessings and they will reach you, when you listen to the voice of the Almighty, your God" (Deut. 28:2). If the Torah says "and it will come to you," why does it add the seemingly extra words "and they will reach you"?

A person does not always realize what is truly good for him or her and mistakenly runs away from the blessing. Therefore, the Torah guarantees that the blessing will pursue the person and reach him even though he is trying to escape from it. Only after he receives the blessing will he become aware of what is really good for him.

This idea will save a person much suffering. When things happen that seem to be a negative occurrence, be patient before you make a final judgment. As one event leads to another you will frequently see before your eyes that what you thought was negative in the end turned out to be clearly positive! Be aware of occasions when this already happened to you in the past and then you will be able to internalize this awareness for the future!


Candle Lighting Times

September 20
(or go to

Jerusalem 6:03
Guatemala 5:42 - Hong Kong 6:04 - Honolulu 6:12
J'Burg 5:45 - London 6:46 - Los Angeles 6:35
Melbourne 5:56 - Mexico City 7:17 - Miami 7:02
New York 6:39 - Singapore 6:44 - Toronto 7:01

Quote of the Week

There is no meaningful thought without act;
there is no meaningful action without thought
--  Rabbi Akiva Zweig



In Memory of

Andrea Goldstein

with great love,
Dr. Harold Goldstein

With Deep Appreciation to

Gilbert Melin



A Complete & Speedy Healing

Simcha Bunim ben
Chaya Sima

Berel & Sarah Simpser

With Special Thanks tof

Alvin and Renee Tolchinsky


Next Steps