Ki Tavo 2017
Finding the Divine in the Midbar
The Torah gives us a model for a healthy transition of leadership in the narrative of Moses and Joshua. That all transitions must start with an ending.
Overcoming Our Egos
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said that human beings come to God through both motivations: “A man totally unconcerned with his self is dead. But a man exclusively concerned with his self is a beast.” That human beings naturally engage in this world through both our reflective and transitive selves. From both our ego-driven as well as our selfless-inspired souls. Our challenge is to overcome egocentrism and selfishness. To actualize the Awe of Heaven. “The greatest beauty,” wrote Rabbi Heschel, “grows at the greatest distance from the ego.”
Living with G-d’s Grace
The Israelite’s prolonged wandering in the desert served as a learning-experience: that whether in the desert or once settled as a sovereign nation, their very existence is ultimately dependent on God’s grace, “one does not live by bread alone, but by everything that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
Making Time for Holiness
On Shabbat, we actualize the Jewish tradition’s idea of holiness, kedusha. That what constitutes holiness is not a sacred object, place, person, ritual or practice. But rather, we make the times of our life holy through the distinction between work and rest. The distinction between the things that are ours and the things that belong to God.
…Our Covenant didn’t end at Sinai and with Revelation. We have a Covenant to create, to complete the Torah as well.
The Promised Land
Zion is aspirational. Beyond the physical land. Beyond a specific place, a particular piece of real estate. That the story of arrival to the Promised Land was never about arrival. That as with all things Holy, Kedusha in Hebrew, what matters is to bring Divinity into our lives. And so, regardless of whether we live in Jerusalem, Paris or Chicago, we must ask ourselves, ask of our community: Now that we are here, what do we have to do in order to make our lives matter? Holy? The Promise Land, after all, is a state of mind.
Peace Through Convictions
…peace and well-being can never be attained at the expense of justice and morality. A complete unwillingness to compromise on morality and justice—even if force must be employed to defend them…