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Ki Tavo 8-23-2013

posted Dec 14, 2013, 2:09 AM by Ohel Avraham
    We are getting preciously close to the end of the Torah. Tomorrow's reading, Ki Tavo, is all about the transition from desert to the Land which YHVH, your God, is giving you. Notice that present tense? It's talking about us, today, just as much as it was talking to our ancestors long ago, and it will talk to our descendants, long into the future. Like the famous look of the Mona Lisa, it always faces you!

    One of the most famous paragraphs and customs stemming directly from Torah is in the opening section. It is the quote we read every Passover from the Haggadah, saying, "An Aramean tried to destroy my father, etc." In older Haggadot, this is translated as "My father was a wandering Aramean, etc." 

    But one of the things that stands completely out to me this year about this perasha is that it represents the moment of awakening. It is an arrival. The name, Ki Tavo, meaning "When you come," reflects this. The infinitive of Tavo is Lavo, to come. But the word is not a passive voice. It is not about "as you come", but instead, the active voice "you will come". It is as though the Torah is saying, "You will arrive. It is a foregone conclusion. Now, the important thing is what you *do* when you arrive."

    Versions of that word "To Come" (to arrive), are repeated dozens of times throughout the perasha. But then, in the last paragraph, the impact suddenly becomes clear. Although our people saw the plagues against the Egyptians, the emancipation from centuries of slavery, the epiphany of receiving the Decalogue at Mt. Sinai, Moses says "God did not give you a heart to know, eyes to see, or ears to hear until this very day." 

    It is a beautiful message indeed. Whatever you have done or seen, succeeded or failed in the past, it does not define what you make of yourself today, right now. 

    This is the message of the month of Elul, coming up to Rosh Hashanah, the new year. Don't beat yourself up about your mistakes, and neither should you rest on your laurels. What you do *today*, right here, right now, is what matters. 

    Shabbat Shalom, and hope to see you tomorrow at Naz. 
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