Friday, August 23, 2013

Shabbat Shalom Dear Readers Parshat Ki Tavo 5773

          This week, parshat Ki Tavo, candle lighting will be at 7:25PM in Brooklyn. has a section of their web site where you can look up candle lighting in your locality. One article in this week's deals with the command to the Israelites to erect a monument with Torah texts covered  with lime prior to entering the Holy Land. Why cover the texts with lime? Were the monuments for the Jewish people or for the surrounding nations? What is significant is that they contained Torah texts of admonition rather than boasts of military prowess.

The Hawaii state motto "Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono", which translates as   "The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness" is integral to Jewish belief. The manner in which the Jewish nation dedicated itself to service of G-d before entering the land expresses the centrality of this concept to Jewish identity. By inscribing Torah texts (according to many opinions) in the 70 central languages of the world, the point was brought home that the entire world is supposed to be a domain of righteous pursuits. has an approach that is very engaging to readers like me who are engaged in the contemporary world. It has articles about current events, modern Jewish history and matters in Jewish tradition that might perplex or concern Jews in modern times. This week, Aish noted Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, much of which was delivered extemporaneously. (What a rarity in our times!)

Another article deals with couples who divorce after decades of marriage. Rather than treat such breakups as inevitable, the authour suggests ways to keep a marriage alive. Although the article is strictly practical and not at all metaphorical, it is hard to work on a marriage consecrated under a Jewish wedding canopy without thinking about keeping our relationship with G-d alive.

A good part of this parsha deals with the blessings the Jewish people will enjoy if theyu are faithful to the commandments  and curses that will follow abandonment of G-d. It is a frightening parsha .

The question that presents itself in trying to understand the blessings and curses is "What do we become if consequences are random or nonexistent?" Even more troubling is the vision of a world in which an evil society assigns its own blessings and curses. During the Rwandan genocide, during China's "Cultural Revolution" and during the Holocaust, the state decided what depravities were to be lauded as "good citizenship". When I feel fear and anxiety during the readings of the blessings and curses, it is curses written by evil people in godless societies that evoke genuine visions of horror.

    In this month of Elul Jews around the world are praying for a time of peace and blessings that can be recognised as such by all the nations of the world.. For the sake of us all, may this age come quickly.

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