Image: An open Torah belonging to Temple Sinai, Oakland, CA. Photo by Susan Krauss.

First fruits, blessings and curses – that’s a quick summary of this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tavo. It’s timely, coming as it does just before the High Holy Days, when we are asking ourselves:

  • What are the “first fruits” of my labor?
  • What do I share with the world and my community?
  • Which mitzvot do I keep?
  • Which mitzvot do I fail to keep?
  • What curses do I bring down upon myself and others by my behavior?

That last question isn’t very modern sounding at first blush, but it has modern implications. I do not expect a lightning bolt to strike every person on earth who does wrong. However, most mitzvot have consequences both for keeping them and for failing to keep them:

  • If I tell lies, I spread confusion in the world.
  • If I injure other people, they hurt.
  • If I fail to speak up for the underdog, the world will be a worse place.
  • If I do not pay my employees properly, they will go hungry.
  • If I use the environment carelessly, the world will be depleted and full of poison.

… and so on.

Mitzvot have consequences.

This week’s divrei Torah:

For Entering a New Phase of Life by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

An Appropriate Response to Trump’s Cruelty is Compassion by Rabbi John Rosove

Entering Israel and Entering Elul by Rabbi Amy Scheinerman

Maimonides on Conversion by Rabbi Ruth Adar

Two Minutes of Torah – Ki Tavo by Rabbi Eleanor Steinman [VIDEO]

You Are What You Wear, Part 2 by Maggidah Melissa Carpenter

Ki Tavo Commentary by Leah Houseman

 

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