WEEKLY SCRIPTURE READING
Torah Portion: Parashat Ki Tavo
Shabbat: Sep. 2, 2023 | Elul 16, 5783
Torah: Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8
Prophets: Isaiah 60:1-22
New Covenant: Eph. 1:3-6; Rev. 21:10-27
TODAY’S PRAYER OF AGREEMENT
Paul’s prayer in Colossians
“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and long suffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins”.
Firstfriuts and Blessings | Further Thoughts on Parashat Ki Tavo
From our Torah portion this week we read: "You shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from your land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket, and you shall go to the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there" (Deut. 26:2). This is called the mitzvah of "bikkurim" (בִּכּוּרִים), or "firstfruits," a thank offering (זֶבַח הַתּוֹדָה) that was given to the priests in recognition of God's faithful love. In a special Shavuot ceremony, a basket filled with the first samples of the spring harvest was presented before the altar at the Temple as the worshiper recited a passage from Torah (Deut. 26:5-12) that retold the basic story of Exodus from Egypt and how the LORD had faithfully brought the people into the Promised Land, "a land flowing with milk and honey" (i.e., eretz zavat chalav u'devash).
The point of the yearly bikkurim ritual was to instill a sense of gratitude, or "hakarat tovah" (הַכָּרַת טוֹבָה), a phrase that means "recognizing or being conscious of the good" (indeed, the word "Jew" (יְהוּדִי) comes from wordplay on the verb yadah (יָדָה), meaning to acknowledge and give thanks). Therefore, the firstfruits offering teaches us to use the "good eye" to appreciate God's kindness and love. Doing so will yield a harvest of blessing in our lives, as it says: "Honor the LORD with your substance and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine" (Prov. 3:9-10). "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name; Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits" (Psalm 103:1-2).
בָּרֲכִי נַפְשִׁי אֶת־יְהוָהוְכָל־קְרָבַי אֶת־שֵׁם קָדְשׁוֹ
bahrakhee nafshee et-Adonaivekhol-kerahvai et-shem kohdshoh
"Bless the LORD, O my soul,and all that is within me, bless his holy name"
The bikkurim ritual testifies that God has redeemed us so that we will produce fruit in our lives to His glory
John J. Parsons