Kee Tavo 5766-2006

"Respect for the Person and the Office"

In the ceremony of the bringing of the Bikurim, the first fruits, the Torah tells us that the farmer shall come to the Priest who "shall be in those days." From these added words, the rabbis learn that we must treat the contemporary Priest with great respect, even though he may not measure up to the standards of the Priests of old. The Torah teaches us to respect not only the person of the Priest, but the office of the Priesthood as well. It is an important message for contemporary America, with many ramifications concerning the future of our country.

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Kee Tavo 5765-2005

"Contemporary Implications of an Ancient Ritual"

In this week's parasha, we read of the formula of confession that the Israelite farmer of old recited when he redeemed his tithes, declaring that he hasn't given in grief, impurely, or to the dead. While the vast majority of Jews no longer work as farmers, the statement recited by the ancient Israelites is relevant today to those who wish to properly redeem their charity tithes. There is much that may be learned from this ancient ritual.

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Kee Tavo 5763-2003

"Watch Out for Laban, He is More Dangerous Than Pharaoh"

As part of the Bikkurim declaration, the celebrants stated that "An Aramean tried to destroy my father." The Torah thus sees the Aramean, Laban, as more dangerous than Pharaoh. The fact that Pharaoh wants to do us in is well known, so we can protect ourselves. Our brother Laban, however, the wily Aramean, is always out there waiting for us, feigning love, conspiring to defeat us. We need always be on watch for him.

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Emor-Yom Ha’atzmaut 5763-2003

"The Counting of the Omer and the Celebration of Israel's Independence"

The counting of the Omer underscores the ultimate purpose of the Exodus from Egypt--the giving of the Torah! Therefore the period from the second day of Passover until the sixth day of Sivan when the festival of Shavuot is celebrated, is counted with great enthusiasm. Counting the Omer is always done in ascending numerical order rather than descending order, underscoring its positive, joyous and optimistic nature--celebrating the victory of light over darkness, morality over immorality and love over hate.

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