16 Elul, 5780
Welcome to Ki Tavo /When You Enter, this week’s Parasha (Torah Portion).
Ki Tavo /When You Enter
Deuteronomy 26:1–29:9 (8);
1 Peter 2:1–25
“When you have entered [ki tavo] the land YAHUVEH your ELOHIM is giving you as an inheritance ... take some of the first-fruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land YAHUVEH your ELOHIM is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place tYAHUVEH your ELOHIM will choose as a dwelling for His name.” (Deuteronomy 26:1–2)
Last week, in Parasha Ki Tetze, YAHUVEH gave to the Israelites 74 of the 613 commandments found in the Torah — far more than any other Torah portion.
These laws mostly seem to be concerned with protecting the weaker members of society. They include laws concerning the beautiful captive, paying workers in a timely fashion, and leaving a portion of the harvest in the field for the widow, the fatherless, and the stranger.
This week, in Parasha Ki Tavo (When You Enter), YAHUVEH instructs Israel to bring the first-ripened fruits (bikkurim) to the central sanctuary once the Israelites have finally entered the Land He promised to them.
It must have been a relief for the children of Israel to hear that their prolonged, 40-year journey through the wilderness would finally be coming to an end. They were about to cross over into the Promised Land.
In fact, the word in Hebrew for a Hebrew, Ivri, comes from the root I-V-R, which means to cross over. In a spiritual sense, anyone who has crossed over into the Kingdom of YAHUVEH is an Ivri.
For that reason, perhaps, Paul said that being a Jew is a matter of having a circumcised heart more than circumcised flesh. He wasn’t by any means negating circumcision; he was emphasizing that to cross over into the Kingdom of GOD, there must be an inward change.
Those who worship YAHUVEH, worship Him in Spirit and in truth.
“But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from ELOHIM.” (Romans 2:29)
The wilderness experience was so challenging and defining that future any physical or spiritual desert as an enemy to be overcome. Our challenge is to walk through the times of wilderness in our lives and be transformed so that we can enter the Promised Land.
Ki Tavo promises that obedience to YAHUVEH will be rewarded. These rewards include Divine protection, prosperity, and blessings on families and future generations.
Disobedience and rebellion against YAHUVEH, however, result in punishment; the Word of YAHUVEH lists 98 chilling admonitions that take up half of this Parasha.
These include diseases, plagues, poverty, famine, slavery, and defeat by enemies.
For this reason, Parasha Ki Tavo has been called “the warning chapter,” and the Torah reader, who traditionally chants the Torah portion according to a sing-song pattern, rushes through the recital of dreaded curses in a hushed, fearful tone.
We need not look far to see that the Jewish People have been blessed by the Almighty YAHUVEH as He promised; but they have also done their fair share of suffering over the centuries due to the curses of the law that come into play because of sin (Deuteronomy 28:15–68).
There are some who follow YAHUSHUA HaMashiach , but believe that it is our lot in life to suffer from these curses along with the rest of the world; however, the Word of YAHUVEH tells us differently.
As covenant children of God, we are to enjoy His blessings on our lives if we are walking in obedience to His commandments.
"But Messiah has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When He was hung on the tree, He took upon Himself the curse for our wrongdoing." (Galatians 3:13)
Blessings Come from Being a Blessing
One of the first acts of obedience that YAHUVEH asks of His people is to remove the first-fruits of our increase, our tithe, the sacred portion — and to give it to those who serve YAHUVEH, as well as to the poor.
“Then say to YAHUVEH your ELOHIM: ‘I have removed from My house the sacred portion and have given it to the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, according to all You commanded.’” (Deuteronomy 26:13)
If we are not obeying this command, then we have little Biblical basis on which to expect YAHUVEH’s blessings on our finances.
YAHUVEH promises that if we obey Him in giving our tithe, He will rebuke the devourer for our sakes and bless our finances.
"'Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,' says YAHUVEH of hosts.” (Malachi 3:11)
But the reverse holds true as well: if we fail to give to YAHUVEH the “hallowed portion” of our income, then we are breaking covenant by “robbing YAHUVEH.”
When we fail to tithe, we come under a curse and give the devourer free rein and destroy our finances.
While YAHUSHUA has removed from us the curse of the law, He has not removed from us the obligation to follow His example by living a holy life. When we understand that we are walking in sin in some area, we are to repent and return to Him.
By giving our tithe — the holy (kadosh) portion of our income — removing it from our possession, we return to YAHUVEH in so many ways and He returns to us.
“‘Return to Me, and I will return to you,’ says YAHUVEH Almighty. But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ Will a mere mortal rob YAHUVEH? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing Me.” (Malachi 3:7–9)
In Judaism, the giving of tzedakah (charity) is considered such an important mitzvah (commandment) that if someone does not fulfill this law, their lineage actually becomes suspect.
Giving to the poor is an obligation, a duty that cannot be forsaken even by those who themselves are in need. a person who does not perform tzedakah is equivalent to an idol worshiper.
This principle is affirmed also in the Brit Chadashah (New Covenant), which emphasizes that if we don’t give when we see a brother in material need, it is doubtful that the love of YAHUVEH truly dwells within us.
“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of YAHUVEH be in him?” (1 John 3:17)
Of course, YAHUVEH rewards compassion and generosity. He promises that when we give to the poor and needy, the widows and orphans, He will pay us back for what we have given.
“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to YAHUVEH, and He will repay him for his deed.” (Proverbs 19:17)
A Treasured Possession
“And YAHUVEH has declared this day that you are His people, His treasured possession as He promised, and that you are to keep all His commands. He has declared that He will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations He has made and that you will be a people holy to YAHUVEH your ELOHIM, as He promised.” (Deuteronomy 26:18–19)
YAHUVEH promises Israel in this Parasha that if they keep His commandments, they will be "His treasured possession.” This promise is also found in Exodus:
“Now if you obey Me fully and keep My covenant, then out of all nations you will be My treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation [mamlechet cohanim v’goee kadosh].” (Exodus 19:5–6)
And although they have experienced many curses over the generations, in the Haftarah (prophetic portion), the prophet Isaiah tells Israel that YAHUVEH in His favor and mercy will one day exalt them even in the midst of much persecution and hatred against them:
“Whereas you have been forsaken and hated, with no one passing through, I will make you majestic forever, a joy from age to age.” (Isaiah 60:15)
In the Brit Chadashah, all followers of YAHUSHUA are called YAH’s special people. Because of our covenant with the Almighty YAHUVEH through the blood of YAHUSHUA, both Jew and Gentile together can know that they are YAHUVEH’s most treasured possession.