Par­shas Ki Tavo - "G-d’s Guid­ing Hand in Our His­tory"

The Jewish Voice - - JEWISH FEATURES -

In this week’s par­sha, the tocha­chos - the curses, the ter­ri­ble calami­ties that will be­fall us through­out our his­tory are enu­mer­ated. There is no par­al­lel to this in the the­o­log­i­cal or his­tor­i­cal writ­ings of any other peo­ple, and this, in and of it­self, is proof of the To­rah’s Di­vine au­thor­ship and the guid­ing hand of G-d in our his­tory. There are ac­tu­ally two places in the To­rah where these curses are men­tioned - once in this par­sha and once in the Book of Leviti­cus - each fo­cus­ing on a dif­fer­ent pe­riod in our his­tory. In Leviti­cus, the de­struc­tion of the First Tem­ple and our sub­se­quent ex­ile are fore­told, while in Deuteron­omy - the de­struc­tion of the Sec­ond Tem­ple, with the evil that fol­lowed and which con­tin­ues to haunt us to this very day is re­lated. Af­ter de­scrib­ing the many hor­rific events that would be­fall our peo­ple in the Ro­man ex­ile, the par­sha states, “And you shall re­turn in boats to Egypt..” (Deuteron­omy, 28:68), which at first glance is dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand, for to travel from Is­rael to Egypt does not re­quire a boat. His­to­ri­ans of the pe­riod who re­count the events of those days, re­late how our an­ces­tors were taken to Rome in chains and sold as slaves. But there were so many Jewish slaves that the mar­ket be­came de­pressed, so the Ro­mans de­cided to ship our peo­ple to Egypt to be sold there. Thus, the tragic prophecy was ful­filled. There are many ter­ri­ble painful curses enu­mer­ated in this par­sha, which any­one who ex­pe­ri­enced the Holo­caust can eas­ily iden­tify, but since the curse of re­turn to Egypt by boat is men­tioned last, it ap­pears that the To­rah re­gards this to be the most dev­as­tat­ing of all. And this too is puz­zling, for it cer­tainly can­not com­pare with the atroc­i­ties that were vis­ited upon us dur­ing our long and painful ex­ile. Our rab­bis ex­plain that the great­est of all ag­o­nies that can be­fall some­one is to dis­cover that his en­tire life’s work - all his ef­forts, his labors and his hopes, were to naught, that all that he be­lieved, that all that he had ac­com­plished was of no sig­nif­i­cance, and af­ter it was all over, he was right back to where he started from. G-d brought us forth from Egypt thou­sands of years ago so that we might come to Si­nai, re­ceive His Covenant and be­come a Pri­estly King­dom, a Holy Na­tion, and thus for­ti­fied, en­ter the Promised Land. But alas, we failed in our mis­sion. We did not ad­here to the com­mand­ments and af­ter many cen­turies, we were right back where we started from - once again, slaves in Egypt. There is a pro­found mes­sage in this tragedy that speaks to all of us. As we ap­proach Rosh HaShana, let us search our lives and as­cer­tain whether our ef­forts, toil, and as­pi­ra­tions are rooted in our To­rah and of last­ing value, or whether they are mere whims that evap­o­rate. Let us make cer­tain that the en­ergy that we ex­pend has sub­stance and merit and will make the world a bet­ter place and grant us our por­tion in World to Come. De­spite all the curses that are proph­e­sied, there is a bless­ing to be found therein which is hinted at by the He­brew word“V’hoya” - “And it shall be” - the phrase with which the curses are in­tro­duced (Deut. 28:15) and which our sages ex­plain is an ex­pres­sion of joy. The very fact that G-d’s guid­ing hand is di­rect­ing us - that noth­ing hap­pens ran­domly, that there is a be­gin­ning and an ul­ti­mate goal to our his­tory, should fill us with happiness for it as­sures us that G-d will never give up on us but will bring us to our fi­nal des­ti­na­tion - our re­demp­tion, with the com­ing of mes­siah.

There are many ter­ri­ble painful curses enu­mer­ated in this par­sha, which any­one who ex­pe­ri­enced the Holo­caust can eas­ily iden­tify, but since the curse of re­turn to Egypt by boat is men­tioned last, it ap­pears that the To­rah re­gards this to be the most dev­as­tat­ing of all

G-d brought us forth from Egypt thou­sands of years ago so that we might come to Si­nai, re­ceive His Covenant and be­come a Pri­estly King­dom, a Holy Na­tion, and thus for­ti­fied, en­ter the Promised Land. But alas, we failed in our mis­sion. We did not ad­here to the com­mand­ments and af­ter many cen­turies, we were right back where we started from - once again, slaves in Egypt.

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