Kee Tavo 5780-2020

“There are Stones with Human Hearts”
(updated and revised from Kee Tavo 5761-2001)

In parashat Kee Tavo, Moses transmits to the Jewish people some of the specific laws and rituals that apply once the people enter the land of Israel. He instructs the elders that, on the day they cross the Jordan to enter into Israel, the people must set up 12 great stones, cover them with plaster and write upon them all the words of this law. Tradition thus explicitly teaches us that Jewish memorials must incorporate Torah. The most appropriate memorials are houses of study and yeshivot that nurture a new generation of Jews. Only in this manner, will our enemies never be able to defeat us.

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Bechukotai 5779-2019

“The Big ‘IF.’ The Gift of Free Choice”
(Revised and updated from Bechukotai 5760-2000)

The little Hebrew word “im“–“if,” that begins the verse, “If you follow my decrees” is a critical word for all of humankind. It implies that all human beings have a very special gift from G-d–-freedom to choose. Our Torah does not speak of predestination, it speaks of choice. Even the Hebrew word for faith, “Emunah,” begins in Hebrew with the same letters as im, implying choice.

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Devarim 5778-2018

“The Final Rebuke"

During the last five weeks of Moses’ life, he delivers a subtle rebuke to the People of Israel, to prepare them for a successful entry into the Promised Land.

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Kee Tavo 5774-2014

“Finding Respite”

After the horrors of the Holocaust were made public, many Jews were under the impression that with the establishment of the State of Israel, its miraculous rebirth and development, the perfidious scourge of anti-Semitism would somehow abate and eventually vanish. For a while there was, what seemed to be, a universal sensitivity. But, only sixty years later, that sensitivity has vanished, and there is now a virulent outbreak of anti-Semitism in countless countries throughout the world, even on the streets of New York and Los Angeles.

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Kee Tavo 5772-2012

“Persecution’s ‘Silver Lining’”

In G-d’s reproof of the Jewish people, He declares that even in exile the people will not find rest for the soles of their feet. Can persecution actually prove to be a blessing in disguise?

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Kee Tavo 5770-2010

“Secret Transgressions”

How does a Jew become not only an “observant” Jew, but a Jew who observes with integrity? The twelve opening admonitions of the Tochacha hope to set the Jewish people on the right track.

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Kee Tavo 5768-2008

"Redeeming Captives"

One of the truly haunting verses of the Torah that we encounter in Parashat Kee Tavo is the prediction that our sons and daughters will not be ours, for they will be led into captivity. The mitzvah of "Pidyon Sh'vuyim," redemption of captives, is one of the highest mitzvot in the hierarchy of biblical commandments. Redeeming our contemporary "captives" must be the call of the hour.

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Bechukotai 5768-2008

"The Double-Edged Sword"

There are two faces to peace and two faces to the sword. Sometimes peace prevails because of internal brotherly love. At other times, peace is imposed from the outside. When people live in harmony with one another then the sword is an instrument of death. However, when people cannot live in peace with one another, then external threats of the sword can be a blessing that brings unity to the people.

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Kee Tavo 5767-2007

"Can the Promise of G-d Keep the People Holy?"

Before delivering the admonition, Moses conveys the blessings of G-d to the Jewish people, including the blessing that G-d will establish His people to be a holy nation to Him. The Haamek Davar sees these words as G-d's promise to protect those who are faithful to Him, even though they may be involved in mundane communal affairs. Is this blessing a foolproof guarantee?

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Kee Tavo 5764-2004

"The Centrality of Joy in Jewish Observance"

Parashat Kee Tavo is one of the two parashiot in the Torah that features the terrifying prophecies known as the "Tochacha"--G-d's reproof of the Jewish people for not following His Torah. The Tochacha predicts that the Jewish people will bear sons and daughters who will not be theirs. It warns that these children will go into captivity because, "You failed to serve the Lord, your G-d, amid gladness of heart, when everything was abundant." More than anything else, what is needed in Jewish life today to help stem the horrific losses from assimilation is the transferal of the inherent joy in Judaism and an emphasis on how the very process of seeking G-d is a source of great pleasure.

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Devarim-Tisha B’Av 5764-2004

"Building a 'New' Sanctuary"

This has been a difficult and challenging year for the Jewish people. Terror attacks, anti-Semitism, assimilation and intermarriage are on the rise. It has also been a particularly hard year for observant Jews, who have been challenged with the appearance of crustaceans in their waters and wigs that might have been used for idolatry. Perhaps what we need during this period of mourning for the Temple is to spiritually chill-out, to calm down and find a sanctuary in our belief system.

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Kedoshim 5763-2003

"Giving Proper Reproof"

Judaism maintains that if one has a justified complaint against another it is preferable to state it directly than to brood over it. However, giving proper reproof is an art in and of itself. The great Chazon Ish (Rabbi Abraham Isiah Karelitz, 1878-1953) declared that since we no longer know how to give proper reproof, it is preferable not to offer reproof.

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Kee Tavo 5762-2002

"A Contemporary Interpretation of an Ancient Reproof"

As we read the "Tochacha," the reproof of the people of Israel for their sins in parashat Kee Tavo, it is impossible not to see the evils of contemporary society predicted and fulfilled. G-d begs us to choose life. If we indeed choose life, the tragic predictions of the Torah should never occur. In fact, we can forestall almost all evil by properly educating ourselves and our children to conduct our lives properly, fulfilling our responsibilities to others and to the environment with genuine loving kindness.

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Kee Tavo 5761-2001

"There are Stones with Human Hearts"

In parashat Kee Tavo, Moses transmits to the Jewish people some of the specific laws and rituals that apply once the people enter the land of Israel. He instructs the elders that, on the day they cross the Jordan to enter into Israel, the people must set up 12 great stones, cover them with plaster and write upon them all the words of this law. Tradition thus explicitly teaches us that Jewish memorials must incorporate Torah. Houses of study and yeshivot that train a new generation of Jews are thus the most appropriate memorials. Only in this manner will our enemies never be able to defeat us.

Read More


0 Comments8 Minutes