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עשה תורתך קבע – אמור מעט ועשה הרבה

כִּי-תָבוֹא – We have a Place

Posted by rabbiart on September 3, 2009

After the amazing catalog of Mitzvot from Ki Tetze, the Torah comes down to earth with only six mitzvot in this week’s parshah. The are:

  • 606: the recital over the first-fruits
  • 607: the avowal over tithes
  • 608: not to eat of the second tithe while in the status of aninut
  • 609: not to eat the second tithe when ritually unclean
  • 610: not to spend the “exchange money” of second tithe on anything but food and drink
  • 611: to emulate the good and right ways of HaShem
  • The parshah opens by commanding us to perform an action and to tell a story. The act is an act of gratitude, the story is a recounting of history. We take the first fruits to come out of the ground, convey them to the place (hamakom where we find HaShem dwelling, give our basket of fruits to the kohen, and make a declaration about the place from which we came.

    וְעָנִיתָ וְאָמַרְתָּ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, אֲרַמִּי אֹבֵד אָבִי, וַיֵּרֶד מִצְרַיְמָה, וַיָּגָר שָׁם בִּמְתֵי מְעָט; וַיְהִי-שָׁם, לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל עָצוּם וָרָב

    Remember that one of the many names by which we refer to HaShem is with the name HaMakom. Perhaps it is unintended by the Torah, perhaps not, but we are told to find the place within the place. As the English of the verse has it, we take our fruits in their basket to the place where HaShem causes HaShem’s name to dwell. On the pshat level, this simply means the place where the priests conduct ritual; the temple. At a deeper level, we are to find the Place within the Place. We are to seek the HaShem where HaShem dwells.

    How do we find our way to the Place?  How do we find our way back Home?  By knowing and remembering our history.  So we declare our history in the place that is in front of the Place that is within the Place.

    What happens in this Place?  HaShem hears us when we cry out loud, and gives us signs, and does wonders for us, and brings us out of a bad place into a better place so that we can encounter the one true Place.

    Just as we begin with action and declaration, we end with declaration about action.  Our tithes (yes, it is first a Jewish term before being borrowed by other faith practices) are kodesh, also a reason and source for rejoicing – and receiving blessing from HaShem.  But only if we share!

    Three verses in a row we mention the ger, the stranger in our midst. We rejoice in the good that is given not only to us but to the stranger. We give our tithes to the stranger, and the orphan, and the widow. We give our kodesh to the stranger, the orphan and the widow.  And then, in a beautifully poetic verse (in the Hebrew at least)    הַשְׁקִיפָה מִמְּעוֹן קָדְשְׁךָ מִן-הַשָּׁמַיִם, וּבָרֵךְ אֶת-עַמְּךָ אֶת-יִשְׂרָאֵל  HaShem looks down from HaShems Place of Holiness, from the heavens, and bestows blessings upon us.

    Finally – in this opening chapter of the Parshah – we become an am kadosh – a holy people in relation to HaShem; a people who have found our place, just as HaShem has promised.

    Shabbat Shalom u’Mvorach

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