The New Shul

Parshat Ki Tavo

In this week’s parashah, Ki Tavo, Moshe teaches the children of Israel to tithe from their crops to support the poor. Morever, Moshe teaches them (it seems) to take credit for the mitzvah afterwards. He explains that, after tithing, each farmer must declare to God: “I have removed [the tithed produce] from my home. . .  I have done all that You commanded.”

The declaration seems presumptuous. How can anyone claim to have done all that God has commanded? Don’t we all fall short?

The Mikra M’forash explained that, when we followed Moshe’s instruction and declared after tithing, “I have done all that You commanded,” we were not boasting. In fact we were not talking about ourselves at all. Instead we were reminding ourselves of an important piece of Torah. We were recalling what Rabbi Akiva taught — that “Love your neighbor as yourself” encompasses all other mitzvot. What we were really declaring was that every act of caring for another person, such as the mitzvah that we had just performed, is all that God commanded. Every time we honor the image of God in another person, we are fulfilling the entire Torah.

We know well that faith can be a divisive force. The Mikra M’forash reminds us that the purpose of the Torah is the opposite: to challenge us to see the holiness in every human being.

  • The New Shul is closed for now due to the Covid-19 crisis. In the mean time, all are welcome to participate in our on-line classes and  events, including Kabbalat Shabbat on Friday afternoons, Havdalah on Saturday nights, daily text study in lieu of kaddish, and weekday classes on the parashah of the week and topics from the Talmud. Please see our website for details, and contact us for further information and the Zoom link.
  • Please join us online on the night of S’lihot, Saturday September 12 at 8:30 pm, for a screening and discussion of the film The Wedding Plan (Rama Burshtein, 2016). S’lihot prayers fill follow at approximately 10:30 pm. Contact us for the Zoom link.
  • For a schedule of our programs and events on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, please see our website.