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Parashat Ki Tavo - 5777

Dear friends,

The portion of Ki Tavo describes a beautiful ritual that took place during the days of the Temple in Jerusalem. At harvest time, the farmer would set aside some of the first fruits (Bikkurim) of his harvest and bring them to the Temple. Before handing the basket over to the priest, the farmer was required to read a passage from the Torah, where he declares that his presence at the Temple with the fruits of the land is living proof that G-d's promise to the Children of Israel has been fulfilled. This ritual teaches us the idea of showing appreciation for G-d's gifts. We may not have the ritual of Bikkurim anymore, but our sages established Brachot, blessings, which we recite before partaking of any food or drink. A Bracha, or blessing, is an expression of gratitude for G-d's gifts to us.

Also in this Parasha, Moses warns the people of the importance of keeping G-d's laws upon entering the Promised Land. He lists many blessings that Israel will enjoy by keeping the Torah, and horrible calamities that will befall them if they should disobey. Among the blessings is this well-known verse:

"Blessed shall you be when you come in and bless shall you be when you go out."(Deuteronomy 28:6)

The Midrash gives several interpretations:

When you 'come in' is when you come into this world and when you 'go out' is when you leave this world. Our hope is that we will leave this world just like we came into it. We came in as a good and innocent baby who brought joy and happiness to his/her family and community. We hope to leave this world with a good name because of the good and innocent life which we have led.

Another interpretation: Our life in this world is made up of comings and goings. Coming into a good place and leaving a bad place (or vice versa), business dealings, changes in our life stages, etc. Every single day is filled with comings and goings. We pray that G-d will bless all of them.

Our hearts and prayers are with the people in Florida who do not know what their 'comings and goings' will be like in the coming days because of the approaching Hurricane Irma. We also pray for all those in Texas whose lives have been affected by the recent Hurricane Harvey.

May all your comings and goings be filled with G-d's blessings.

Shabbat Shalom,