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KiTavo

PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
ROSH YESHIVA
IN
YESHIVAS RABAINU YAAKOV YOSEF
(RABBI JACOB JOSEPH YESHIVA - RJJ)
IN NYC FOR OVER 23 YEARS.
NIFTAR ON 20 ADAR 5758 - MARCH 18, 1998.
MAY HE BE A MAYLITZ YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL.

AND

MY DEAR MOTHER
REBITZEN BRACHA ETEL SHIMANOWITZ A'H
WHO DEVOTED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO MY FATHER AND HIS TORAH,
NIFTERA ON 21 TEVET 5770 - WED EVE. JANUARY 6, 2010.
MAY SHE BE A MAYLITZA YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL


Menachim Z. Shimanowitz

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PARSHA
FACTS

NUMBER OF MITZVOT: 6
3 MITZVOT ASEH (POSITIVE COMMANDMENT)
3 MITZVOT LO TAASEH (NEGATIVE COMMANDMENT - PROHIBITION)

NUMBER OF PESUKIM (SENTENCES): 122

NUMBER OF WORDS: 1747

NUMBER OF LETTERS: 6811

HAFTORA: (Additional portion, from Prophets, which is read after the Parsha)
Yeshayahu / Isaiah 60:1- 22 קומי אורי
This is the sixth of seven Haftorot, - the שבע דנחמתא - the Seven Haftorot of Consolation, that precede Rosh HaShana).


This week we study Chapters 3 & 4 of Pirkei Avot - "Ethics of the Fathers"


פרשת כי תבוא
THE
PARSHA
In our last episode it was Mitzvah madness - three examples of “Tza’ar Ba’alei Chayim (cruelty to animals),” marriage, birth, divorce, tzitzit and more. As our Parsha opens, Moshe is tying together loose ends on the Mitzvot. After this final word on first fruits, Moshe will switch modes.

BIKURIM
- FIRST
FRUITS

When springtime pulls in, the farmer’s job is to watch his crops to make sure that all his work in the field, planting and sowing, is yielding results on schedule. You know how it is when you plant a tomato seed in the backyard and wait eagerly for the first tomato to sprout. Well, imagine digging up a backyard of hundreds of acres and spending weeks toiling in the heat to plow the earth with only a plow pulled by an ox (no tractors in those days!).

When that first fruit sprouts, you’re jumping for joy! So here’s what Hashem has in mind: When the farmer sees that first fruit, he runs back to the house, grabs a string and ties it around that fruit or stalk, and declares. "This is Bikurim."

 

This Mitzvah only applies to the seven famous fruits of Eretz Yisroel as mentioned in Parshat Eikev (Devarim 8:8):

  1. wheat,
  2. barley,
  3. figs
  4. pomegranates
  5. olives
  6. dates and
  7. grapes.

and does not apply during a Shmita year, when the land rests.

The first of any or all of these famous seven Minim (species), must be marked and brought to Yerushalayim. This is called “Bikurim.Bikurim are a gift for Hashem and is presented to Hashem as you'd give a present to your friend, in a nice basket. The best time to bring Bikurim is between Shavuot and Sukkot (but you can still bring Bikurim until Chanukah if need be.)

In the time of the Bait Hamikdash, when this Mitzvah was in full swing, Bikurim was a big event that involved the whole family and friends in a pompous procession. Out in front, an ox preceeded the group. Its horns were covered with gold and it wore an olive wreath around its neck. This ox will later be a Korban Shlamim.

As you would approach the city of Yerushalayim, you’d be greeted by crowds of people from the city and the music of flutes. On Har Habayit (the Temple Mount), as you approach the Bait Hamikdash, you place your basket of first fruits on your shoulder and enter the Azara, the courtyard of the Bait Hamikdash. A Kohain hooks up with you there for the final ritual.

The Kohain places his hands underneath the basket while you hold the rim. Then, together, you wave the basket in four directions. This is called “tenufa,” - to show that it belongs to Hashem. Then the basket was placed in front of the Mizbayach (Altar) and you recite the verses in Parshat Ki Tavo (Devarim 26:3, 5-10) which remind us that Yaakov arrived in Mitzrayim with only seventy people who multiplied. The Egyptians were prevented by Hashem from destroying these Bnei Yisroel. In the end, Hashem took Bnei Yisroel out of Mitzrayim and returned them to Eretz Yisroel. To thank Hashem, we present these Bikurim.

The first fruits are then eaten by the Kohain, who has no land and is dedicated to the service of Hashem. This is Hashem's gift to the Kohain.

The farmer stayed at least overnight in Yerushalayim, absorbing the kedusha (holiness) of Yerushalayim and the Bait Hamikdash before returning home.


DON'T
MISS
A
MA'ASER

For a farmer, the seven year Shmita cycle is filled with lots of Ma’aser moments.

There’s Teruma for the Kohain, Ma’aser Rishon for the Levi, Ma’aser Sheini which the farmer himself eats in Yerushalayim, and Ma’aser Ani for the poor (in the third and sixth year of the cycle). A farmer has to keep track of all of these portions that he gives away.

Once every three years, during the fourth and seventh years of the Shmita cycle, the farmer goes through his books to make sure he has fulfilled his obligations of Ma’aser. If he finds that he missed a Ma’aser, he’s got the opportunity now to do the Mitzvah.

On the last day of Pesach during the fourth and seventh years, the farmer says a special “Viduy,” the “Viduy Ma’aser.” It may be recited anywhere, but it is preferable to recite it at the Bait Hamikdash in Yerushalayim. In this prayer the farmer declares to Hashem that he has separated all his Ma’asrot correctly. The farmer asks Hashem to fulfill his end of the bargain and bless the Bnei Yisroel with rain and an abundance of produce.


DEVARIM
PART II -
THE
FINAL
STRETCH

Moshe is commanded to set up twelve giant stones in the plains of Moav. Each stone was plastered and engraved with the entire Torah in 70 languages. (They must've been mighty big stones, or else it was just another miracle). These stones are to remind this generation of Bnei Yisroel entering the land that they must keep the Torah. If the Bnei Yisroel neglect the Torah, they will not be allowed to keep the land.

Hashem also commands the next leader of Bnei Yisroel, Yehoshua, to set up 12 stones on the spot where the Bnei Yisroel cross the Jordan River into Eretz Yisroel.

Additionally, when Hashem splits the Jordan River, 12 stones are to be removed from the river and carried to Har Eival, a mountain in the center of Eretz Yisroel. There, Yehoshua would construct a Mizbayach (altar) with these stones. The entire Torah would then be engraved in these stones and Korbanot (sacrifices) would be offered in a one shot deal. Then the stones would be brought back and placed at Gilgal, the first stop in Eretz Yisroel. The location of these stones were known until the time of the Talmud.


DISHING
OUT THE
BLESSINGS
AND
CURSES

The day that Bnei Yisroel enters Eretz Yisroel, they will march straight out to Shechem. In Shechem there are two mountains, Har Gerizim and Har Eival. The tribes of Shimon, Levi, Yehuda, Yissachar, Yosef and Binyamin stand on Har Gerizim, the Bracha mountain. The tribes of Reuven, Gad, Asher, Zevulun, Dan, Naftali stand on Har Eival, the Klalah mountain. The Kohanim and Zekainim (elders) of the Leviyim will stand in the valley between the mountains in a circle around the Aron (Ark).

There are eleven blessings and eleven curses that will be called out by the Zekainim. Every time a Bracha is recited, the Zekainim face Har Gerizim. They face Har Aival when a curse is called out. Blessing or curse, all Bnei Yisroel will call out “Amen.”

These blessings and curses talk about specific Mitzvot in the Torah, which are usually transgressed in secret, and cannot be punished by a Beth Din.

Here are some;

"Blessed is the man who does not make graven images in secret; cursed is the one who does.“

“Blessed is the man who is not disrespectful to his father and mother (behind their backs); cursed is the one who is."

“Blessed is the man who does not secretly move his neighbor's boundary (to steal his land); cursed is the one who does.“

“Blessed is the man who does not mislead a blind person (giving an ignorant person bad advice); cursed is the one who does.“

“Blessed is the man who does not pervert the judgement of a gair (convert), orphan or a widow; cursed is the one who does.“

“Blessed is the man who does not kill a man secretly (by speaking Lashon Hara about him); cursed is the one who does.“

“Blessed is the man who does not take a bribe to kill an innocent man; cursed is the one who does.“

In addition to the eleven, Moshe added an all inclusive;
"Blessed is the man who upholds all the words of this Torah; cursed is the one who does not.“

In a way, this presentation is like a Matan Torah, a new giving and acceptance of the Torah in the new land, since the generation present did not experience the giving of the Torah.


NOW WE’LL
GIVE YOU
MORE
BLESSINGS
AND
CURSES
SO
NEXT TIME
YOU WON’T
SIN
BEFORE
ME

Moshe is really worried that once he is gone the Bnei Yisroel will drop Mitzvot of the Torah out of convenience. So Moshe decides to load up the nation with a set of Brachot and Klalot of his own. He talks about city folks who are blessed for the Mitzvot of Sukkah, Mezuzah and building a fence around a roof; he talks about farmers who are blessed for leaving corners of the field, fallen stalks and forgotten bundles for the poor. Those who keep these Mitzvot will be blessed with victories over their enemies, rain in the right time and a healthy economy.

Of course, if the Bnei Yisroel abandon Hashem’s Mitzvot, they’re in for the flip-side, the Klalah! Hashem will curse their children, herds and produce. There will be disease and famine. If the Bnei Yisroel don’t serve Hashem with joy and gladness, Hashem will pulverize them, destroying their produce, drying out the land, sending foreign enemies to defeat them and take them captive. Moshe does not want to see this come true, but he does want to leave them with a clear-cut message that will sink in.


THE NEW DEAL

With all the brachot and klalot, Moshe calls all of Bnei Yisroel together, including the women and children. It is time to make a new treaty between Bnei Yisroel and Hashem. Just one thing that Bnei Yisroel needs to know: when the Bnei Yisroel were taken out of Mitzrayim, they were like a group of children. If a child does something wrong, you punish him but you hold back because you know he’s immature and doesn’t always understand the grander scheme of things. Now, 40 years later, the Bnei Yisroel are all grown up. They can grasp the greatness of Hashem, what He can do, and how serious He takes His Mitzvot. Anyone who transgresses a Mitzvah now will be punished to the full extent of the law.
Tune in next week when the treaty gets Bnei Yisroel moving in the direction of the Mitzvot in our next exciting episode of:
Parsha on Parade

Midrash Maven
See the Midrash Maven on Ki Tavo


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