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Ki Tavo(Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8)

Ki Tavo 5759

GOOD MORNING!  As we approach Rosh Hashanah (Sunday night, September 20th), each of us must make our own accounting with ourselves. What are we living for? Are our actions leading us towards our goals or away from our goals? What can we do better? What goal would be more worthy to live for? If you have trouble identifying what is important to live for, then ask yourself, "What would I die for?" Then, instead of dying for it, live for it!

There is another way to be real with life. Write your own obituary. What is it that you want to have said about your life after your years are over? What do you want written on your tombstone? The following poem was given to me by Rabbi Finley Bukaitz who read it in a eulogy. It asks essential questions that we must ask ourselves as we approach the Yom HaDin, the Day of Judgment.


The Measure of Man

Not .... How did he die? But ....How did he live?
Not .... What did he gain? But ... What did he give?

These are the units to measure the worth
of a man as a man, regardless of birth.

Not ... What was his station? But .. had he heart?
And ... How did he play his God-given part?

Was he ever ready with a word of good cheer,
to bring back a smile, to banish a tear?

Not ... What was his shrine? nor ... What was his creed?
But ... Had he befriended those really in need?

Not ... What did the sketch in the newspaper say?
But ... How many were sorry when he passed away?


Torah Portion of the Week
Ki Tavo

This week's portion includes: Bringing to the Temple as an offering the first fruits of the Seven Species special to the land of Israel, Declaration of tithes, The Almighty designating the Jewish people as His treasured people (Deut. 26:16 -19), The command to set up in the Jordan River and then on Mount Ebal large stones which had the Torah written upon them in 70 languages, The command to have a public ratification of the acceptance of the Law from Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal; The Torah then sets forth the blessings for following the Law and the curses for not following it, and concludes with Moshe's final discourse.

 

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

In relating the consequences for not following the Almighty's commandments, the Torah states, "Your life shall hang in doubt before you, and you shall fear night and day, and you will not be sure of your livelihood" (Deut. 28:66). What is the meaning of this verse?

The Talmud (Menachos 103b) explains that the verse refers to the pain and suffering of worrying about the future. "Your life shall hang in doubt before you" refers to someone who does not own land and buys a year's supply of grain each year. Though he has grain for this year, he worries about next year. The second level, "You shall fear night and day" refers to someone who buys grain once a week. He is in a worse situation; he has to find new grain every week. The most severe level, "you will not be sure of your livelihood" refers to someone who has to buy bread every day. He constantly has what to worry about.

Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz, the previous head of the famed Mir Yeshiva, frequently cited this statement of the Sages and pointed out that a person creates his own mental torture by his own thoughts. If you have enough food for today and you appreciate what you have, you are a fortunate person. You will live a happy life. If you keep worrying about the future, you will never have peace of mind. Even if you have enough to eat for the entire year, you can easily destroy the quality of your life by keeping your mind focused on all that can go wrong next year. Regardless of what will be next year, you are causing yourself suffering right now.

Learn to have mental self-discipline. Don't dwell on what you are missing unless it can lead to constructive planning. Why cause yourself unnecessary pain and anguish when you can choose to keep your thoughts on what you do have in the present? If you are a worrier, the best thing you can do for yourself is to train yourself to be the master of your thoughts. (I highly recommend reading Gateway to Happiness by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin ... available at Jewish bookstores or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242.) Even if you never gain complete control, whatever control you do have is a blessing!

Published: January 25, 2000

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