Friday, September 25, 2015

Random Musing Before Shabbat–Ha’azinu 5776–Still Not Trifling


This is an updating and revisiting of a musing from 5762 and 5766, entitled “Trifles.”

There's a lot to consider. All the words spoken to the people by Moshe, not just in the swan song that comprises Ha'azinu, but in the entire discourse of D'varim. Indeed, in all of Torah, and that's "big T" and "little t" Torah.

Things we should do. Things we shouldn't do. Things we must always do, and things we must never do. (It's interesting how the Hebrew language has grammatical forms- "lo" and "al-" that allow one to express a "do not" and an emphatic "absolutely do not." I wonder what we are to make of that? Are some negative mitzvot more important? Also, oddly enough, while one might think that black and white things, absolute yes and no statements, would be easier to deal with, that's not always the case, is it?)

So, do the less emphatic yes and no become less important? Are we free to pick and choose from among the less emphatic commandments which ones to observe, but not free to do the same with the absolute ones (like the Aseret Hadibrot?)

Reform Judaism claims to embraces the "informed choice" concept. (It often becomes in practice, unfortunately, the "we don't have to" concept.) Reconstructionist Judaism does just that – attempts to reconstruct Judaism from its constituent parts, giving the past a voice, but not a veto. Conservative Judaism, and please understand I do not mean this in a pejorative sense, has become the contemporary inheritors of the story of the oven at Akhnai, using an informed rabbinate to control the sluice gates of slow, deliberate change. The orthodox remain the protectors of the original usurping rabbis of the Akhnai story. (They too, control sluice gates, and do not be misled into believing they don’t allow any leaks or change. How do you prevent change of a tradition that is already based on allowing competing interpretations to exist?

Each takes a very different approach to the question of how to approach the mitzvot, and the subtle difference between “lo” and “al” negative commandments. But I;ve digressed. I don't want to debate the relative merits of liberal informed choice versus traditional adherence-that wasn't my point in 2002 and it's not my point today.

We are told something very important in D'varim 32:47, after Moshe reminds the people to heed the words he has spoken:

כִּי לֹֽא־דָבָר רֵק הוּא מִכֶּם כִּי־הוּא חַיֵּיכֶם

"This is no trifling matter for you, it is your very life."

The Hebrew word translated by the JPS committee as "trifling" is "reik" and it comes from a root (resh-yod-qof) that actually means empty, or sometimes vain. The verbal form can mean to empty, or even to pour out. The analogy is thought-provoking. If we simply empty ourselves of the mitzvot, or pour them out of ourselves, then we may be truly empty. Mitzvot can give our lives meaning, so we must be careful how we deal with them.

Using this Hebrew word "reik" also allows us to caution a Jew who blindly observes the commandments, or some rabbi or posek’s particular understanding of the commandments- for that can be just as empty or trifling an approach.

As expected, there were exposes again this year from animal rights activists exposing the stark and harsh realities of the ritual of kaporet. As usual, I was shocked by what I read – that the chickens had been clearly mistreated, that despite assurances, many carcasses were discarded and not used to create meals for the poor, and the general sanitary conditions were substandard. So for me, the people participating in this ritual were violating so many other principles of Judaism that it renders their attempt to be rid of their sins meaningless and void. Not only that, but how it makes the Jewish community look to the rest of the world – both Jewish and non-Jewish violates the principle of “marat ayin.” (Put simply, how it appears to others. “Marat ayin” is one of the rationales for not eating fowl with dairy, even though fowl is clearly not “basar” as the Torah meant it.) The whole practice of kaporet, to me, feels like trifling-it demeans Torah, it demeans G”d, it demeans humanity.

On the other side, we still have countless Reform congregations where the “Yom Kippur” appeal is normative. To me, this practice looks no better to the Jewish and outside world than kaporet. It is trifling. If synagogues can only survive by tarnishing this sacred day with an appeal from the pulpit for the filthy lucre needed to sustain it, then perhaps they don’t deserve to survive.

Yet again, I digress. Back to

For the liberal Jew, it's not simply a matter of saying "that's too inconvenient and not relevant, I hereby discard it utterly."  (Dare we criticize Kim Davis for her hypocrisy whilst we are mired in our own?) And for the traditional Jew, it's not simply a matter of saying "that's exactly what it says, so that's what I must exactly do." Either of those choices trivializes the words and their meanings. We are meant to engage the mitzvot. Grapple with them. Struggle. Search for meaning and understanding. We ignore them or blindly obey them at our own peril. Engaging with them does not mean pretending there is only Torah and Tanakh, either. The Liberal Jew did not inherit a Karaite Judaism – it inherited a Judaism in which the Talmud, Shulkhan Arukh, and countless other texts are a core part, and cannot be callously discarded. Engaging with them does not mean that one blindly accepts the supposed “oral Torah” as being of Divine origin, simply because the very authors of the books in question are the ones making the claim. If that doesn’t give one pause, what should?

The words of Torah (big T and little t) are no trifles, they are pearls. Let us value them.

We may each find a different meaning in them, but when we dig no deeper than a superficial reading, we haven't really found anything at all. When we allow others to determine the meaning for us, with no input of our own, we haven't really found anything at all.

It is time to start digging deeper. This Shabbat, grab those literary and intellectual shovels and start. Just don't dig yourself into a hole. (However, if you somehow manage to dig yourself into a "whole," that's another thing entirely.) Well (pun intended,) before I dig in any deeper, I'd better extricate myself.

I wish you a Shabbat Shalom, and a Chag Asif Sameiakh.


©2015 (portions ©2001 & 2006) by Adrian A. Durlester

Other Musings on this Parasha:

Ha'azinu-Shabbat Shuvah 5775 - Who's Got the Last Laugh Now
Ha'azinu/Shabbat Shuvah 5774 - 5774: A Torah Odyssey
Ha'azinu 5772 - An Insincere Hymn?
Ha'azinu/Shabbat Shuvah 5570-Pur Prayers Aren't Bull
Haazinu 5766-Trifles (Updated from 5762)
Haazinu 5765/5763-How would It Look If...
Haazinu 5764-More Bull From Our Lips
Haazinu 5762--Trifles
Haazinu 5760-Bull from Our Lips

Friday, September 18, 2015

Random Musing Before Shabbat Vayeilekh/Shabbat Shuvah 5776 Cows and Roses (Redux 5769)

(When I wrote the original musing upon which this was based, for Vayeitze 5765, that Shabbat was in proximity to Thanksgiving, and I mused more about that connection, which is why it was called Cows and Cranberries. Somehow, Cows and Roses seemed more suited for this adaptation, originally shared in 5769.)

One of the two special haftarah readings for Shabbat Shuvah is a subset of the haftarah normally read for parashat Vayeitze, which we'll be reading again this November on the last Shabbat of the month.

It's from that ever troubling prophet, Hosea. Luckily, for Vayeitzei and Shabbat Shuvah we get to skip over all that lovely "marring a whore" metaphor stuff in the beginning of the book of Hosea.

As I have mentioned before, in previous musings for Vayeitze, there is a curious little problem appearing in 2:2-3 of Hosea, in the form of a syntactical puzzle. It hinges on a word and a word grouping.

At the start of this haftarah, in Chapter 14 verse 2&3, we read-

שׁוּבָה יִשְׂרָאֵל עַד יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ כִּי כָשַׁלְתָּ בַּֽעֲוֹנֶֽךָ: ג קְחוּ עִמָּכֶם דְּבָרִים וְשׁוּבוּ אֶל־יְהֹוָה אִמְרוּ אֵלָיו

2. Return, O Israel, to the Eternal your Gd, for you have stumbled in your iniquity. 3. Take words with you, and return to the Eternal and say:

That's the first half of the verse. Verse 3b, has some syntactical problems with the Hebrew, which reads:

כָּל־תִּשָּׂא עָוֹן וְקַח־טוֹב וּנְשַׁלְּמָה פָרִים שְׂפָתֵֽינוּ

Kol tisa avon v'kach tov, unshalmah parim s'fateinu

One translation of this is :

Forgive all guilt and accept what is good; instead of bulls we will pay [the offering of] our lips.

And another:

Forgive all iniquity and accept the good; and we shall offer the fruit of our lips.

And yet another:

May you forgive all iniquity and accept good [intentions] and let our lips substitute for bulls.

In their struggling to translate and understand the text, scholars have disagreed on one word-the word parim. It does mean, in Hebrew, bulls. But scholars could not understand exactly the construction of those last three words. Because it would seem to mean "and completed bulls lips" which doesn't make a whole lot of sense. So many translators have chosen to render it as if meaning that what passes from our lips (prayers) shall be offered in place of sacrifices (bulls.)

It's a nice read, and I personally like it, because it is one of the earliest indicators in Tanakh that the Jews were evolving past the need for animal sacrifices.

Yet the Septuagint and Syriac version of the Torah both translate the words as "fruit." In Hebrew, "p'ri." (The Septuagint is a translation from Hebrew to Greek purportedly assembled by 70 scholars who all agreed on the translation.)

פרי     פרים

Remember that the Torah has no vowels. So the first three letters of the word now being rendered (and rendered by the masoretes) as "parim" could have been p'ri at one point, when someone accidentally added a final mem to the word as a scribal error, and this was the version that was passed down to us. Considering the translations from both the Septuagint and Syriac, this seems quite possible--that the word was originally just pey-resh-yod, without the final mem.

So why does all this matter? Well, for one thing, offering the fruit of our lips is quite a different sentiment from giving the offering of our lips in place of bulls (for sacrifice.) The former is about intention, the latter is about methodology.

And it's all so appropriate, on Shabbat Shuvah, for us to consider what it is that G"d wants from us when we engage in the self-evaluative exploration that is "doing t'shuva." We are taught that repentance at this time of year atones for sins between humans and G"d, but does not atone for sins bein adam l'khavero" between one human being and another.

Consider how often, in our society, people are tempted to atone for sins against another by making up with gifts (like flowers for the spouse when you've something to confess.) To me, these gifts are no better than the bulls. It is what we offer with our lips - our apologies, our repentance. And, in a way, it is also what we offer with our "fruits," that is, the fruits of our labors to try and do better this new year. I find either of these ultimately superior to a sacrificial bull. In fact, a sacrificial bull is just that--sacrificial bull! A meaningless gesture. Yes, in an agrarian society, giving up an unblemished food animal is, indeed, a significant sacrifice. But what does G"d need with meat? Let's be honest-it probably was all a system to keep the kohanim and levi'im fed (or at least it evolved into that once we settled in the land.)

Sure, it's nice to buy flowers for Shabbat. It's nice to offer gifts to others. Yet, when it is an apology or amend that is due, I'd recommend the "sacrifice from your lips" or from the fruits of your efforts to be a better person.

BTW, speaking of cows, as an extra little aside-an exercise I often give to my students for extra credit. In modern Hebrew, the word "ladybug" is "parat-Moshe Rabbeinu" - the "cow of Moses our teacher." There's some very interesting etymology to this modern Hebrew word, and you might enjoy doing a little research of your own to find out the story behind it.

Shabbat Shalom , Tzom Qal, and G'mar Lhatima Tovah


©2015 & 2008 by Adrian A. Durlester. (Portions ©2004)

Other Musing on this Parasha:

Vayelekh 5765-The Time Is Still Now
Ha'azinu-Shabbat Shuvah 5775 - Who's Got the Last Laugh Now
Ha'azinu/Shabbat Shuvah 5774 - 5774: A Torah Odyssey
Ha'azinu/Shabbat Shuvah 5570-Pur Prayers Aren't Bull

Yom Kippur 5775 - Afflict Me
Yom Kippur 5774 - Blanket Apologies II
Yom Kippur 5772 - Al Khet Shekhetanu
Yom Kippur 5765 - Blanket apologies

Friday, September 11, 2015

Random Musing Before Shabbat–Nitzavim 5775-Lo Bashamayim Hi (Revised Classic from 5757)

This is one of my earliest musings, written in 1997. I’ve shared it again a few times over the years, though the last time was in 2004. I’ve done little editing, updating, and adding thoughts (indicated by being in [brackets]) here and there, but it’s mostly the same (perhaps naïve) as it was 21 years ago.

כִּי הַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת אֲשֶׁר אָֽנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם לֹֽא־נִפְלֵאת הִוא מִמְּךָ וְלֹֽא־רְחֹקָה הִֽוא: יב לֹא בַשָּׁמַיִם הִוא לֵאמֹר מִי יַֽעֲלֶה־לָּנוּ הַשָּׁמַיְמָה וְיִקָּחֶהָ לָּנוּ וְיַשְׁמִעֵנוּ אֹתָהּ וְנַֽעֲשֶֽׂנָּה: יג וְלֹֽא־מֵעֵבֶר לַיָּם הִוא לֵאמֹר מִי יַֽעֲבָר־לָנוּ אֶל־עֵבֶר הַיָּם וְיִקָּחֶהָ לָּנוּ וְיַשְׁמִעֵנוּ אֹתָהּ וְנַֽעֲשֶֽׂנָּה: יד כִּֽי־קָרוֹב אֵלֶיךָ הַדָּבָר מְאֹד בְּפִיךָ וּבִלְבָֽבְךָ לַֽעֲשׂתֽוֹ

Lo bashamayim hi. It is not in the heavens, it is not beyond the sea. It is close to us.

However, it is not (necessarily) physical distance we are talking about. It is telling us that Torah is not beyond our intellectual reach - beyond our understanding. I think that is a very important point to remind ourselves about, for several reasons.

I know, for myself, that each time I delve into Torah, I can get more confused and baffled than I was before. This problem is exacerbated as I strive to wear my two hats-- as a student of religion [as I was in 1997, and now, in 2015, as a full-time Jewish professional] and as a practicing, believing Jew. [Perhaps, in 1997, in my naiveté I could just leave that statement there. Today, I feel compelled to expand that statement with words to the effect of “whatever that means to me at any given moment in time.” In all honesty, my relationship with my faith and religious practice was no less complicated 21 years ago than it is today, or it was 40 years ago when I was an eager, yet confused college student. Am I a practicing, believing Jew? By the standards of some, I’m not. Even by my own standards, I sometimes wonder. I do know that my Judaism is precious enough to me to continue to compel me to work to insure a Jewish future through teaching, music, and any other area where I have been bestowed with the gifts to share my knowledge.]

When reading Torah, it is still a continual questioning: "What does this mean, what does that mean?" It can be awfully frustrating at times. Then I remind myself - yes, it may have layer upon layer of meaning, but we are told straight out that it is within our understanding. At each level we approach it, it's meaning can become clear, but it may be very difficult to understand it at different levels all at one time. The meaning becomes clear within the context of our approach, our path to understanding. I wonder, sometimes, which comes first - our level of knowledge and then our understanding -- or our understanding then determining our level? I have seen, heard, read, or experienced brilliant insights from those with little knowledge and expertise, and the most unenlightening and empty homiletics from the truly learned.

Sometimes, the text itself is my teacher in spite of myself. I can plug away at trying to understand the text, only to have an insight come to me that is totally alien to the paradigms with which I was viewing the text. The text itself took me to another level.

It is wise to remember that Torah is accessible for all of us - we do not have to wait for great scholars and mystics to impart its wisdom to it. (Nor should we blithely ignore the teachings and traditions of our past, our great scholars, even our not so great scholars.) [I hesitate to suggest that every single interpretation and understanding of Torah is worthy of consideration, but I also find my feeling that way utterly contemptible. Who am I to make such a determination? I try, I really do, to be open to all interpretations, and some of the best come from the most unlikely sources. I have learned, when I find an interpretation lacking, to ask myself to consider what I myself may be lacking. In reality, I don’t live up to this ideal as often as I’d like.]

However, it’s not about the interpreter. Torah imparts itself. If we do not study it for ourselves, we shall never have our own understanding of it-only someone else's. [This has become a centerpiece of my answer to questions like “why learn Hebrew?” or “why read the Torah?” Yes, reading it in only in translation imposes a layer of interpretation, and I do believe reading it in the original enhances the possibilities of understanding. At the same time, the original Hebrew can also make the text more difficult to understand. Also, let’s face it. What we have is a text filtered through the particular lenses of the Masoretes. We have no access to the urtext, so, in reality, what we perceive as the original may in fact differ from the original and in so doing alter the meaning. It could simply be argued, well, this is the text we’ve got, so we might as well work from there. At times I find that acceptable, at others times I want to scream at the rabbis who usurped the power of interpretation for themselves with Talmudic screeds like the debate about the oven at Akhnai. Then again, I need to remind myself that the rabbis were only claiming what the Torah itself said “it is not in Heaven.” Still, that’s a pretty cheeky kiss-off to G”d! ]

Sometimes, analysis of the text as an academic interferes with the process, as I study the reflections of others. [Just see all the comments I’ve been adding to the original version of this musing!]  At other times the study helps create fresh opportunities for Torah to speak to me on a new level and gain my own new understanding. [Ditto to my previous insert.]

It is also important that all of us remember, particularly in these trying times, that understanding of Torah is not the private secret of any one group of people-not just scholars, rabbis, kabbalists - that understanding is open to all Jews, be they Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, secular, et al. For, as we are told at the very beginning of Nitzavim:

אַתֶּם נִצָּבִים הַיּוֹם כֻּלְּכֶם לִפְנֵי יְהוָֹה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶם רָֽאשֵׁיכֶם שִׁבְטֵיכֶם זִקְנֵיכֶם וְשֹׁטְרֵיכֶם כֹּל אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵֽל

"You are standing this day, ALL OF YOU, before the L”rd your G”d..." (Deut 29:9, JPS)

And that is including children, wives, and strangers dwelling among us. We are, all of us, party to the covenant to which our Torah attests. So, when later on the text says:

כִּי הַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת אֲשֶׁר אָֽנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם לֹֽא־נִפְלֵאת הִוא מִמְּךָ וְלֹֽא־רְחֹקָה הִֽוא

"Surely this Instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not to baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach." (Deut 30:11, JPS)

the YOU refers to all - men, women, children, strangers, and, by extension to present times Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, secular Jews, et al.

There is, however, a flip side to this good news. Because Torah is within our reach we have access to some parts of the text that challenge us. G”d tells us, quite plainly that the text is within our understanding, yet also asks us to do things which baffle us.

"Nothing baffling about that" an Orthodox friend once told me. "Just do what it says."

"Not as easy as it sounds," I reply. "My challenge is to come to understand that particular piece of text."

"But you already understand it," my friend says. "You just want to ignore it."

"No," I reply. "I'm waiting for the moment when the text speaks to me and raises me from my present level of understanding to the level on which it is imparting to me another meaning."

This is what the Torah means about it being reachable to all of us. Coming to our own understanding, not someone else's.

Ki karov eilecha. It is close to us. In OUR mouths, OUR hearts. But also in EACH of our mouths, EACH of our hearts. As individual as G”d made us.

May this Shabbat and the New Year offer you peace, rest, and a chance to let Torah startle you with new insights and fresh perspectives on old insights. May you be open to these insights no matter from where and from whom they come.

Shabbat Shalom and Shanah Tovah,


©2014 (portions ©1997, 2004) by Adrian A. Durlester

Other musings on this parasha:

Nitzavim-Vayeilekh 5774 - Even Lola Doesn’t Always Get What She Wants
Nitzavim-Vayeilekh 5773 - Opening Our Own Hearts
Nitzavim 5772 - Where or When?
Nitzavim/Vayeilekh 5770 - Flawed, Schmawed
Nitzavim/Vayeilekh 5769 - Disconencting the Reconnecting the Dots
Vayeilekh_Shabbat Shuvah 5769 - Cows and Roses
Nitzavim/Vayeilekh 5766 - Keep Looking
Vayelekh 5765-The Time Is Still Now
Nitzavim 5765-To Lo Or Not To Lo
Nitzavim/Vayelekh 5763-Connect the Dots
Nitzavim 5757/5759/5764-Lo Bashamayim Hi
Nitzavim 5758-Not By Ourselves
Nitzavim/Vayelekh 5760/67-L'eyd B'vnei Yisrael-The Real Denouement
Nitzavim 5761 was the week of Sept. 11, 2001. There was no musing.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Random Musing Before Shabbat–Ki Tavo-Rise and Shine (Redux 5761)

Our covenant with G”d takes on the formulations of a classic Suzerain-Vassal treaty from the Ancient Near East. The Suzerain says you must do all these things for you and I will protect and keep you. And if you do not do as I require, this is what will befall you. Pretty simple concept.

Now, contracting with a known quantity is one thing. A ruler, known for power, for keeping promises -someone who will do as he says - and you know it - if not first hand, then from reliable sources. Make a treaty with him-you provide him tribute, services, loyalty and whatever he requires, and in return you get protection and other benefits that come along with being allied with a great power.

But-make a treaty with an intangible? Pretty difficult concept for many to buy in to.

In Ki Tavo, our ancestors are told the secret that made it possible for them (however incomplete in the doing) to make a treaty with this intangible G”d.

וְלֹֽא־נָתַן יְהֹוָה לָכֶם לֵב לָדַעַת וְעֵינַיִם לִרְאוֹת וְאָזְנַיִם לִשְׁמֹעַ עַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּֽה

D'varim 29:3 - "Yet to this day the L”rd has not given you a mind to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear."

Many have struggled with the meaning of these words, at the very end of Ki Tavo, which Moshe uses to start his final oration to the people (which we read next week in Nitzavim.) But a slight play in the Hebrew translation can give the words a different slant.

"But the Lord did not give to you a mind to understand, eyes to see, or ears to hear UNTIL THIS DAY."

These people lived the miracles and wonders. As the prior verses state, they saw what G”d did for them in Egypt. They are the living witness that G”d can hold up his end of the bargain. Surely that is enough to for them to keep their end of the covenant. (Sadly, we discover it wasn't, but that's a story for another time.)

But what of us-so distant from those times-living in a age so apparently devoid of miracles and wonders wrought by Gd (although I daresay that one need only stop for a moment and look around, and they will surely find signs of G”d's wonder and providence) ? What is our secret to keeping our part of the Suzerain-Vassal treaty with G”d in an age where G”d's presence is not as apparently manifest as it was to (some of) our ancestors ?

The answer is back at the beginning of parasha Ki Tavo, in words that have become a central part of the Pesach Seder: Arami oveid avi.

"MY father was a wandering Aramean. He went down to Egypt with meager numbers and sojourned there; but there he became a great and very populous nation. The Egyptians dealt harshly with US and oppressed US; they imposed heavy labor upon US. WE cried to the L”rd, the G”d of our fathers, and the L”rd heard OUR plea and saw OUR plight, OUR misery, and OUR oppression. The L”rd freed US from Egypt by a mighty hand, by an outstretched arm and awesome power, and by signs and portents. He (sic) brought US to this place and gave US this land, a land flowing with milk and honey." (JPS: D'varim 26:5b-9)

US, WE, OUR. How plain can it be. When we say or read these words, then we are part of US, WE, OUR. G”d did these things for us. G”d can and will do what G”d agreed to, if we will keep our end of the bargain. B'khol dor every generation we must act as it were we ourselves who were freed from slavery in Egypt. Each and every moment of our lives, this miracle happens again-for, had it not happened, we would not be here!

We've not done such a bang up job keeping our end of the covenant, so it should come as no surprise that perhaps G”d hasn't fully lived up to promises either. Yet time and again G”d has forgiven us our weaknesses. G”d must have, for we are still here. Judaism may be a far cry from what is was in the time of Moshe, but it is still here, being practiced. It may be threatened with being torn apart from within, but it is still here. (If each of us truly believes that "Arami oveid avi" then we must do all we can to prevent Judaism from being torn apart.)

Yet, in this crazy world, it is sometimes so hard to believe. Questions of theodicy abound. Our society seems in the midst of moral decline, our species wantonly murders, natural disasters claim thousands of lives. Despite our societies knowledge of the evils of hate, despite even having lived through Hitler, hate still burns and rears its ugly head, attacking even young children.

We need hope. The rabbis knew this in their time and their decision to link Isaiah 60 to Ki Tavo is quite prescient. The words of these twenty-two verses are those of hope everlasting, in stark contrast to the gloom and doom of the curses in Ki Tavo. The message begins with a simple exhortation that, to have hope, we must embrace.

ק֥וּמִי א֖וֹרִי כִּֽי־בָ֣א אוֹרֵ֑ךְ וּכְב֥וֹד יְהֹוָ֖ה עָלַ֥יִךְ זָרָֽח

"Kumi ori ki-ba oreich, ukh’vod Ad”nai alayikh zarakh." Arise, shine, for your light has dawned; the glory of Ad”nai shines upon you" (JPS-Isaiah 60:1)

Now, go and read the other 21 verses and get your kemach, your sustenance. For these verses, from our parasha and haftarah alike illuminate the words "Im ein kemach, ein Torah. Im ein Torah, ein kemach." Without sustenance there is no Torah. Without Torah there is no sustenance. (Pirke Avot 3:21)

Armed with this kind of hope and faith, we can persevere. But lest we forget that we have obligations to fulfill, and lest we forget from whence comes the source of our help, let us all remember, as the old song tells us, to "rise and shine" and then to do the most important part and "give G”d your glory, glory."

Kumi ori!

Shabbat Shalom,

©2015 (portions ©1999 & 2001) by Adrian A. Durlester

Other Musings on this Parasha:

Ki Tavo 5774 - They Don't Make Them Like They Used To
Ki Tavo 5773 - Catalog of Calamities (Redux and Greatly Revised 5760)
Ki Tavo 5772 - Mi Yitein Erev? Mi Yitein Boker?
Ki Tavo 5771 - Curse This Parasha!
Ki Tavo 5769 - If It Walks and Talks Like a Creed...
Ki Tavo 5767 - Uncut Stones
Ki Tavo 5764-Al Kol Eileh (in memory of Naomi Shemer, z"l)
Ki Tavo 5763--Still Getting Away With It?
Ki Tavo 5760--Catalog of Calamities
Ki Tavo 5762--Al Kol Eileh