Ki Tavo | כי תבא

Covenantal Judaism: Ki Tavo 5780

About fifteen years ago Rabbi David Wolpe suggested that Conservative Judaism be rebranded as Covenantal Judaism. I felt this to be an attractive solution to our brand challenge. Wolpe spoke of the covenant on numerous levels—a theological covenant between Jews and God, a national covenant between Jews and each other, and an ethical covenant between…

Tithing for Today: Ki Tavo 5779

What do the Torah’s tithes have to do with us? Is there a straight line connecting verses that call for support of the Levite, stranger, widow and orphan to the forms of charity practiced today? Our portion includes an emphatic command not only to mitigate poverty, but also to help the vulnerable achieve satiety: When…

An Understanding Heart: Ki Tavo 5778

Moses presents the people of Israel with a paradox toward the end of the parashah. In 29:1-3, he first states that they have “seen with their own eyes” all the miracles wrought by God on their behalf from the Exodus until this point. But then he states that God did not give them, “a heart…

Blessed in Both Directions: Ki Tavo 5777

Sometimes translations can’t help but make a mess of the original. A prime example is Deuteronomy 28:6, which in Hebrew consists of six poetic words: בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה בְּבֹאֶךָ וּבָרוּךְ אַתָּה בְּצֵאתֶךָ. JPS requires 15 words to render this in English, “Blessed shall you be in your comings, and blessed shall you be in your goings.”…

Ki Tavo 5774: A Mezuzah for all the World to See

Chapter 27 of Deuteronomy describes various rituals to mark the future entrance of Israel into the promised land, including the plastering of stones and inscription of “these words of Torah” upon them. I imagine these stones as a type of national mezuzah marking the entrance to the land. Still, much about this mitzvah is unclear….