Torah Portion: Ki Tavo (When You Come) (Deut.) 26:1-29:8
HafTorah: Isaiah 60:1-22
NT Matt. 13:1-23; Luke 21:1-4; Acts 28:17-31; Romans 11:1-15
Today before we go on to Ki Tavo I would like to go back to last week’s Torah section to cover something I overlooked. In D’Varim (Deut.) 23 we read you should not abhor or hate an Edomite. You should not abhor an Egyptian. Now think for a minute about this verse. What had the Egyptians done to Israel? Read Shemot (Exodus) 1:22. Yet here we see Moses speaking as if this had never happened, almost saying Israel owed them a debt of gratitude. On the other hand they were to recite the story of Exodus each year commemorated with bitter herbs and unleavened bread so their children would never forget. What is Moses talking about here? To be free you have to let go of hate. If not, Moses might take them out of Egypt but would not be able to take Egypt out of them. Mentally and emotionally they would still be slaves, still in chains – chains of their mind and emotions. We must live with the past but not in the past. If we let our past define who we are we are not truly free of it. Moses tells the people over and over to remember the past not for revenge but so that they would remember to not treat others the way they were treated. They should give to the poor, leave some of their crops in the field to share with others and share their lives with others. Our memory of the past is not to preserve hate but to conquer it and to recall how it felt to be a victim. Remember: not to live in the past but to prevent a repetition of it.
Hatred and freedom cannot coexist. This may help us to understand a verse in the New Testament: Matthew 5:44. Here Yeshua says love your enemies, pray for them, do good to them. I have always had a hard time with this verse. Yeshua is saying the same thing here as Moses says in Deut 23:8. Do not be a slave to hurt or mistreatment. If we cannot move on then it still holds us and enslaves us. So like both of these verses remind us, we must let the past stay in the past and live our lives differently. May it be so for each of us.
Which brings me to another question I sent out. In D’Varim 28:47 we read why all these terrible things had happened to Israel. “Because you did not serve G-d with joy and a happy heart when you had everything.” So the question arises, “How do we serve G-d with joy and a happy heart?” This applies even when we have done something wrong, maybe really wrong. Our joy should spring from the fact that G-d has not left us but gives us a chance to change, to repent. This may help us understand what Shaul writes to the Philippians in 4:4, “Rejoice in the L-rd always.” How? We can do this because we can rest in the fact He loves us and always has our best in His heart for us. By this we can serve the L-rd with joy, which is what Moses is saying in Deut. To serve Him without joy is no service at all. In our lives especially when things are going well it is very easy to lose our joy and begin to worry about tomorrow. What will be? Small things that might not have bothered us earlier suddenly become mountains. Why? We have lost sight of the fact that the one who loves us is still in control. Whatever we are involved in or wherever we find ourselves. So, serve the L-rd with joy.
Now, please look at D’Varim 28:29. Here Moses says one of the things Israel will experience is they will grope at noontime as a blind man gropes. In Amos 8:9-10 we see this repeated but here tied to what – the mourning of an only son. Then to further illuminate D’Varim we read Matthew 27:45 where we read at the time of Yeshua’s death there was darkness over the land from noon until 3 in the afternoon. The only Son of the Father had died. The hope of Israel had died but G-d had a plan and still has a plan. Zechariah 12:10 and John 19:37 tie it all up for us. There will be a time when all Israel shall be saved. May we be part of that in our day!
Last, a question I sent to you this week: do the curses listed in this Torah portion prove G-d has rejected His people? No. Think about this and answer for yourself.