Parashat Ki Tavo – 5783

August 28, 2023

Rabbi Ira J. Dounn (’17)

A couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of talking with someone interested in converting to Judaism. Since the pandemic, I have noticed an uptick in people interested in converting with me. In the conversation, I asked them more about themselves, their story, and their interest in casting their lot with the Jewish people. And although I’ve heard several answers now to this question of “Why do you want to convert?”, I had never heard this one before.

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Parashat Ki Tavo – 5782

September 15, 2022

Click HERE  for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashat Ki Tavo By Rabbi Jeffrey Segelman Parashat Ki Tavo begins with two mitzvot which are declarations. The first is that of Bikkurim – the first fruits. This declaration is very familiar to us as it forms the basis of the Maggid section of the seder (Arami Oveid Avi… (Deut 26:5-10). The rabbis call this statement “mikra bikkurim” – “the declaration of the first fruits”. The second declaration concerns the end of the three year cycle of tithes. In short, all the tithes of the cycle had to be properly distributed during three years. On the last day after each three year cycle, a declaration at the Temple was made. Here is that declaration: I have removed the holy things (tithes) from my house, and I have also given it to the Levite, to the stranger, to the orphan and to the widow, according to whatever the commandment that You commanded...

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Parashat Ki Tavo 5781

August 26, 2021

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashat Ki Tavo By Rabbi Ariann Weitzman (’11)Many of us spend an incredible amount of time figuring out how to make someone else listen, whether it’s to our instructions, our needs, our anxieties, or just our day-to-day thoughts and feelings. Listening seems like it’s in short supply. Wanting to be heard, however, is abundant. Moses was no stranger to this phenomenon. His speeches make up the bulk of the book of Deuteronomy. And his repeated command, “Listen!” peppers these speeches. In this week’s parashah, Ki Tavo, Moses elevates the pitch of his final speech, detailing a dramatic series of blessings and curses that will be spoken to the people by the priests once they enter the land of Canaan, as the people stand up on two opposing hilltops. If his words aren’t enough to make them...

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Parashat Ki Tavo 5780

September 4, 2020

  A D’var Torah for Parashat Ki Tavo By Rabbi Heidi Hoover (’11) In the megahit musical Hamilton, there is a song with the repeated line, “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” ( The way that we know who we are and where we come from is through stories. Sometimes we call them myths; sometimes we call them history. There’s more overlap between those two than we’d like to admit. It is impossible to include every detail of something that’s happened in a story, so every single time we tell a story, we make choices about what to put in and what to leave out. And indeed, who tells your story can determine whether you are hero or villain, victim or victor—in fact, whether you are remembered at all. Sometimes stories are codified in an attempt to shape identity, to tie everyone into a community through agreement on...

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Parashat Ki Tavo 5779

September 20, 2019

Coming of the Messiah: Sooner or Later? A D’var Torah for Parashat Ki Tavo By Rabbi Irwin Huberman (’10) Perhaps no Jewish themed text has been more quoted in recent times than the 1971 theater production, Fiddler on the Roof. In one of Fiddler’s closing scenes, as residents of the fictional town of Anatevka continue packing their belongings, one of the local characters, Mottel the Tailor, turns to the community’s rabbi and asks: “Rabbi, we’ve been waiting for the Messiah all our lives. Wouldn’t now be a good time for him to come?” To which the Rabbi replies: “I guess we’ll have to wait someplace else.” The idea of a great national savior to either facilitate or preside over a perfected world has captured the imagination of Jews, among others, for centuries. Allusions to this character appear in many prophetic books, most notably Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Micah, Hosea, Zachariah and...

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