The New Shul

Parshat Ki Tavo

This week’s parashah, Ki Tavo, describes the ritual of bikkurim, the offering of first fruits, as it was practiced in ancient Israel. Each spring, farmers from across the land would bring their first fruits to the Temple in Jerusalem. As they presented their offerings to the priests, they would recite a fixed declaration of thanksgiving. The final words of the declaration were: “. . . And now I have brought the first fruits of the land, which YHWH has given me.”

On the surface, the phrase “which YHWH has given me,” seems to refer to the “fruits of the land.” The farmer seems to be giving thanks for the richness of the harvest. But the Nahalat K’dumim read the passage differently. He suggested that “which YHWH has given me” refers, not to “the fruits of the land,” but to the words that come immediately before: “Now I have brought.” In other words, what the farmer is most grateful for is not the harvest itself, but the ability to bring an offering. The greatest gift is the privilege of giving.

Our lives feel fullest when we give to others. When we ask “How can I make my life more meaningful?”, what we are really asking is: “What do I have to give? What difference can I make in the world?” 

Answering that question is the essence of our work on the Days of Awe. This is the time of year when we turn inward so that we can more joyfully turn outward. We search our souls so that we can more clearly hear what God is calling on us to give – to our family, our community and the world. As we clarify our answer to that question, we discover that that clarity is God’s gift to us.

  • The New Shul’s Shabbat services are from 6 to 7 pm on Fridays, and from 9 am to noon on Saturdays. In accordance with the latest Covid guidance from the CDC, we require all those over the age of 2 to wear a mask while in our building (kiddush, for now, is take-out only).
  • The kiddush this Shabbat, August 28, is sponsored by Phil Sheinbein and Ora Zutler.
  • Childcare is available on Shabbat mornings from 10 am to noon.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm.
  • S’lihot is this Saturday night August 28. Join us at The New Shul at 8:30 pm for a screening and discussion of the film Maktub (Oded Raz, 2017). The S’lihot service follows at about 10:45 pm.
  • Complete information on our services for the Days of Awe is available here. Please note that, due to Covid, we are asking everyone to pre-register this year so that we can know how many people to expect. Please pre-register here.