There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.
It’s time to explore Torah Portion Ki Tavo Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8, aliyah by aliyah.
Aliyah 1: Deuteronomy 26:1-11
Deuteronomy 26:1 “When you have come to the land HaShem your G-d is giving you as your inheritance, taken possession of it and settled there;
When, not if; HaShem will succeed in fulfilling His promises to the Patriarchs.
Deuteronomy 26:2 you are to take the firstfruits of all the crops the ground yields, which you will harvest from your land that HaShem your G-d is giving you, put them in a basket and go to the place where HaShem your G-d will choose to have his name live.
The Land is more than a home, it is a platform to unlock, additional, special mitzvot and blessings.
Deuteronomy 26:3 You will approach the cohen holding office at the time and say to him, ‘Today I declare to HaShem your G-d that I have come to the land HaShem swore to our ancestors that he would give us.’
Say hello to liturgy sanctioned by HaShem HIMSELF!
Deuteronomy 26:4 The cohen will take the basket from your hand and put it down in front of the altar of HaShem your G-d.
The cohen has a job thanks in part to this, but what is the deeper meaning? Is it that he represents HaShem taking the offering from the individual.
Deuteronomy 26:5 “Then, in the presence of HaShem your G-d, you are to say, ‘My ancestor was a nomad from Aram. He went down into Egypt few in number and stayed. There he became a great, strong, populous nation
As Rav Mike of the Jewish Story Podcast on the Land of Israel Network says, it is important to know where you came from to understand where you are going. This Divine script is a tool to engrave humility and gratitude into the heart of all who offer the First Fruits.
Deuteronomy 26:6 But the Egyptians treated us badly; they oppressed us and imposed harsh slavery on us.
How does a populous nation let itself become enslaved?
Deuteronomy 26:7 So we cried out to HaShem, the G-d of our ancestors. HaShem heard us and saw our misery, toil and oppression;
There is something sweet and childlike in Israel calling for HaShem to help them in their distress.
Deuteronomy 26:8 and HaShem brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and a stretched-out arm, with great terror, and with signs and wonders.
This is complete humility and acknowledgement of HaShem’s might and mercy and provision.
Deuteronomy 26:9 Now he has brought us to this place and given us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.
More acknowledgement and gratitude. Keep in mind these are the words HaShem wanted and commanded Israel to speak at this time, so of course it reflects wisdom and understanding.
Deuteronomy 26:10 Therefore, as you see, I have now brought the firstfruits of the land which you, HaShem, have given me.’ You are then to put the basket down before HaShem your G-d, prostrate yourself before HaShem your G-d,
The final acknowledgement is that all comes from the Hand of Heaven.
Deuteronomy 26:11 and take joy in all the good that HaShem your G-d has given you, your household, the Levi and the foreigner living with you.
Two dimensions stand out to me here. One: the peace offering brought with the firstfruits is shared with the Levites on duty as well as guest of the offerer. Another: The LORD commands Israel to rejoice in His provision and blessing
Aliyah 2: Deuteronomy 26:12-15
Deuteronomy 26:13 you are to say, in the presence of HaShem your G-d, ‘I have rid my house of the things set aside for G-d and given them to the Levi, the foreigner, the orphan and the widow, in keeping with every one of the mitzvot you gave me. I haven’t disobeyed any of your mitzvot or forgotten them.
Tithing was originally to support the Mishkan and Temple infrastructure as well as the most vulnerable people in Israel: foreigners, widows and orphans.
Aliyah 3: Deuteronomy 26:16-19
Deuteronomy 26:16 Today HaShem your G-d orders you to obey these laws and rulings. Therefore, you are to observe and obey them with all your heart and all your being.
HaShem has always wanted to connect with Man by the heart. Torah is a tool to connect Man to the Divine, it was given to a saved people not to a lost people to save them.
Aliyah 4: Deuteronomy 27:1-10
Deuteronomy 27:3 and, after crossing over, write this Torah on them, every word — so that you can enter the land HaShem your G-d is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as HaShem, the G-d of your ancestors, promised you.
What does “Torah” mean here? What “Torah” was to be inscribed on these stones? Do you think it was all 5 Books of Moshe, the 10 Commandments or perhaps the 613 Commandments?
Aliyah 5: Deuteronomy 27:11-28:6
Deuteronomy 28:2 and all the following blessings will be yours in abundance — if you will do what HaShem your G-d says:
Torah is a tool to bring blessings to Israel, among other things.
Aliyah 6: Deuteronomy 28:7-69
Deuteronomy 28:68 Finally, HaShem will bring you back in ships to Egypt, the place of which I said to you, ‘You will never ever see it again’; and there you will try to sell yourselves as slaves to your enemies, but no one will buy you.”
Is this a future event from now or did it happen in Israel’s past. If it hasn’t happened is that because it was averted by Israel’s repentance? Judaism teaches that negative prophecies like this need not come true. Repentance can overturn them. The clearest example is Ninevah from the book of Jonah; his prophecy failed to come true because they repented, but he is still a good, honest prophet.
Aliyah 7: Deuteronomy 29:1-8
Deuteronomy 29:3 Nevertheless, to this day HaShem has not given you a heart to understand, eyes to see or ears to hear!
How can HaShem hold Israel accountable for sin’s when He has kept them from seeing and understanding? Is that part of why He is so full of grace and love and long-suffering…
Before I go, I want to answer questions raised at the beginning of this session. These are my opinions, based on my time studying under various teachers and while I try to set aside any commentaries while examining each aliyah, I will allow myself to bring some back in for this section. I will disclose where I am getting these ideas where relevant.
1. Did the LORD create liturgy?
2. Why does Israel have extra laws?
3. How do you move forward?
That concludes my journey through Ki Tavo for the year 5782.
I hope these words have been a blessing to you.
May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.
This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.