Friday, August 23, 2013

The Joy of Life in the Land of Israel

A Torah Thought for Parashat Ki Tavoh
By Rabbi Chaim Richman
Bringing the first fruits to the Holy Temple is the ultimate expression of true joy. This mitzvah is the consummate exercise in gratitude and humility, and the keenest manifestation of the sheer joy that results from living in the Land of Israel. Bringing the first fruits to the Beit HaMikdash, a Jew declares: "I have brought the first fruit of the ground that You have given me, Hashem!" And Torah continues: "You shall rejoice with all the goodness that Hashem has given you…"
But isn't strange that this Torah portion, which begins with this ultimate joy, also contains the ominous, portent-filled 'curses?' What opposite extremes!
In reality it's not strange at all. The joyous experience of the first fruits, and the concept of the 'curses,' both convey a lesson in the attribute of gratitude. The first fruits are a manifestation of our gratitude for the Land of Israel. And the Divine sequence of punishments outlined herein, indeed the exile itself, are all a result of "because you did not serve Hashem your G-d amid gladness and goodness of heart, from an abundance of everything."
Let us be thankful for the Land of Israel! is the main message of our Torah portion.

Rabbi Chaim Richman
Director, International Department
The Temple Institute
PO Box 31876 Jerusalem, Israel 

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