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Ki Tavo, Ki Thavo, Ki Tabo, Ki Thabo, or Ki Savo (כי תבוא — Hebrew for “when you enter,” the second and third words, and the first distinctive words, in the parshah) is the 50th weekly Torah portion (parshah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the seventh in the book of Deuteronomy. It constitutes Deuteronomy 26:1–29:8. Jews in the Diaspora generally read it in September.

Thank offering unto the Lord

offering of first fruits (illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company)

Summary

The story of a thanksgiving day

offerings of thanksgiving (illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company)

First fruits

Moses directed the Israelites that when they entered the land that God was giving them, they were to take some of every first fruit of the soil that they harvested, put it in a basket, and take it to the place where God would choose to establish God's name. (Deuteronomy 26:1–2.) There they were to go to the priest in charge and acknowledge that they had entered the land that God swore to their fathers. (Deuteronomy 26:3.) The priest was to set the basket down in front of the altar. (Deuteronomy 26:4.) They were then to recite:

"A wandering Aramean was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there, few in number; and he became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous. And the Egyptians dealt ill with us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage. And we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice, and saw our affliction, and our toil, and our oppression. And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders. And He has brought us into this place, and has given us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the first of the fruit of the land, that You, O Lord, have given me." (Deuteronomy 26:5–10.)

They were to leave the basket before the altar, bow low to God, and then feast on and enjoy, together with the Levite and the stranger, the bounty that God had given them. (Deuteronomy 26:10–11.)

Tithes

When they had given the the tenth part of their yield to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, in the third year, the year of the tithe, they were to declare before God:

“‘I have put away the hallowed things out of my house, and also have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according to Your commandment that You have commanded me; I have not transgressed any of Your commandments, neither have I forgotten them. I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, neither have I put away thereof, being unclean, nor given thereof for the dead; I have hearkened to the voice of the Lord my God, I have done according to all that You have commanded me. Look from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel, and the land that You have given us, as You swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Deuteronomy 26:12–15.)

Code-de-Hammurabi-1

a large stone inscribed with the law code of Hammurabi

Observing the law

Moses exhorted the Israelites to observe these laws faithfully with all their heart and soul, noting that they had affirmed that the Lord was their God, that they would walk in God’s ways, that they would observe Gods laws, and that they would obey God. (Deuteronomy 26:16–17.) And God affirmed that the Israelites were God’s treasured people, and that God would set them high above all the nations in fame and renown and glory, and that they would be a holy people to God. (Deuteronomy 26:18–19.)

Moses and the elders charged the people that as soon as they had crossed the Jordan River, they were to set up large stones on Mount Ebal, coat them with plaster, and inscribe on them all the words of the Torah most distinctly. (Deuteronomy 27:1–4.) There they were also to build an altar to God made of unhewn stones on which no iron tool had struck, and they were to offer on it burnt offerings to God and offerings of well-being and rejoice. (Deuteronomy 27:5–7.)

Moses and the priests told all Israel to hear: They had become the people of God, and should heed God and observe God’s commandments. (Deuteronomy 27:9–10.)

Blessings and curses

Moses charged the people that after they had crossed the Jordan, the tribes of Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin were to stand on Mount Gerizim when the blessings were spoken, and the tribes of Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphthali were to stand on Mount Ebal when the curses were spoken. (Deuteronomy 27:11–13.) The Levites were then loudly to curse anyone who: made a sculptured image, insulted father or mother, moved a fellow countryman’s landmark, misdirected a blind person, subverted the rights of the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, lay with his father’s wife, lay with any beast, lay with his sister, lay with his mother-in-law, struck down his fellow countryman in secret, accepted a bribe in the case of the murder of an innocent person, or otherwise would not observe the commandments; and for each curse all the people were to say, “Amen.” (Deuteronomy 27:14–26.)

NablusPanorama2

panorama showing Mount Gerizim on the left, Mount Ebal on the right, and modern Nablus (ancient Shechem) between
(photographed by and copyright Uwe A; for licensing information, double-click on the picture)</small>

On the other hand, if they obeyed God and observed faithfully all the commandments, then God would set them high above all the nations of the earth, bless them in the city and the country, bless the issue of their wombs, the produce of their soil, and the fertility of their herds and flocks, bless their basket and their kneading bowl, bless them in their comings and goings, rout their enemies, bless them upon their barns and all their undertakings, bless them in the land, establish them as God’s holy people, give them abounding prosperity, provide rain in season, and make them the head and not the tail. (Deuteronomy 28:1–14.)

But if they did not obey God and observe faithfully the commandments, then God would curse them in the city and the country, curse their basket and kneading bowl, curse the issue of their womb, the produce of their soil, and the fertility of their herds and flocks, curse them in their comings and goings, loose on them calamity, panic, and frustration in all their enterprises, make pestilence cling to them, strike them with tuberculosis, fever, inflammation, scorching heat, drought, blight, and mildew, turn the skies to copper and the earth to iron, make the rain into dust, rout them before their enemies, strike them with the Egyptian inflammation, hemorrhoids, boil-scars, itch, madness, blindness, and dismay. (Deuteronomy 28:15–29.) If they paid the bride price for a wife, another man would enjoy her; if they built a house, they would not live in it; if they planted a vineyard, they would not harvest it. (Deuteronomy 28:30.)

Francesco Hayez 017

Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem (painting by Francesco Hayez)

The captivity of Judah

The Captivity of Judah (illustration from a Bible card published 1904 by the Providence Lithograph Company)

Their oxen would be slaughtered before their eyes, but they would not eat of it; their ass would be seized and not returned; their flock would be delivered to their enemies; their sons and daughters would be delivered to another people; a people they did not know would eat up the produce of their soil and all their gains; they would be abused and downtrodden continually, until they were driven mad; God would afflict them at the knees and thighs with a severe inflammation; God would drive them to an unknown nation where they would serve other gods, of wood and stone; and they would be a consternation, a proverb, and a byword among all the peoples. (Deuteronomy 28:31–37.) Locusts would consume their seed, worms would devour their vineyards, the olives would drop off their olive trees, their sons and daughters would go into captivity, the cricket would take over all the trees and produce of their land, the stranger in their midst would rise above them, the stranger would be their creditor, and the stranger would be the head and they the tail. (Deuteronomy 28:38–44.) Because they would not serve God in joy over abundance, they would have to serve in hunger and thirst, naked and lacking everything, the enemies whom God would let loose against them. (Deuteronomy 28:47–48.) God would bring against them a ruthless nation from afar, whose language they would not understand, to devour their cattle and produce of their soil and to shut them up in their towns until every mighty wall in which they trusted had come down. (Deuteronomy 28:49–52.) And when they were shut up under siege, they would eat the flesh of their sons and daughters. (Deuteronomy 28:52–57.) God would inflict extraordinary plagues and diseases on them until they would have a scant few left, for as God once delighted in making them prosperous and many, so would God delight in causing them to perish and diminish. (Deuteronomy 28:58–63.) God would scatter them among all the peoples from one end of the earth to the other, but even among those nations they would find no place to rest. (Deuteronomy 28:64–65.) In the morning they would say, “If only it were evening!” and in the evening they would say, “If only it were morning!” (Deuteronomy 28:67.) God would send them back to Egypt in galleys and they would offer themselves for sale as slaves, but none would buy. (Deuteronomy 28:68.)

Exhortation to obedience

Moses reminded the Israelites that they had seen all that God did to Pharaoh and Egypt, yet they did not yet understand. (Deuteronomy 29:1–3.) Moses led them through the wilderness 40 years, their clothes and sandals did not wear out, and they survived without bread to eat and wine to drink so that they might know that the Lord was their God. (Deuteronomy 29:4–5.) They defeated King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan, took their land, and gave it to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. (Deuteronomy 29:6–7.) Therefore Moses urged them to observe faithfully all the commandments, that they might succeed in all that they undertook. (Deuteronomy 29:8.)

Key words

Words used frequently in the parshah include:

Fanciullo con canestro di frutta (Caravaggio)

Boy with a Basket of Fruit (painting by Caravaggio)

In classical rabbinic interpretation

Deuteronomy chapter 26

Tractate Bikkurim in the Mishnah, Tosefta, and Jerusalem Talmud interpreted the laws of the first fruits in Exodus 23:19, Numbers 18:13, and Deuteronomy 12:17–18 and 26:1–11. (Mishnah Bikkurim 1:1–3:12; Tosefta Bikkurim 1:1–2:16; Jerusalem Talmud Bikkurim 1a–26b.)

The Mishnah taught that to set aside first fruits, a landowner would go down into the field, see a fruit that ripened, tie a reed-rope around it, and say, “These are first fruits.” But Rabbi Simeon said that even if the landowner did this, the landowner still had to designate the fruits as first fruits again after they had been picked. (Mishnah Bikkurim 3:1.)

The Mishnah interpreted the words “the first-fruits of your land” in Exodus 23:19 to mean that a person could not bring first fruits unless all the produce came from that person’s land. The Mishnah thus taught that people who planted trees but bent their branches into or over another’s property could not bring first fruits from those trees. And for the same reason, the Mishnah taught that tenants, lessees, occupiers of confiscated property, or robbers could not bring first fruits. (Mishnah Bikkurim 1:1–2.)

Seven Species

The Seven Species

The Mishnah taught that first fruits were brought only from the Seven Species (Shiv'at Ha-Minim) that Deuteronomy 8:8 noted to praise the Land of Israel: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olive oil, and date honey. But first fruits could not be brought from dates grown on hills, or from valley-fruits, or from olives that were not of the choice kind. The Mishnah deduced from the words “the feast of harvest, the first-fruits of your labors, which you sow in the field” in Exodus 23:16 that first fruits were not to be brought before Shavuot. The Mishnah reported that the men of Mount Zeboim brought their first fruits before Shavuot, but the priests did not accept them, because of what is written in Exodus 23:16. (Mishnah Bikkurim 1:3.)

Fruit Basket

Fruit Basket (painting by Balthasar van der Ast)

The inhabitants of the district assembled in a city of the district and spent the night in the town square. Early in the morning, their leader said: “Let us rise and go up to Zion, to the house of the Lord our God.” (Mishnah Bikkurim 3:2.) Those who lived near Jerusalem brought fresh figs and grapes, and those who lived far away brought dried figs and raisins. Leading the pilgrimage procession was an ox with horns overlaid with gold wearing a crown of olive branches. The sounds of the flute announced the pilgrims’ coming until they neared Jerusalem, when they sent messengers ahead and arranged their first fruits for presentation. A delegation of the Temple’s leaders and treasurers came out to meet them, varying in relation to the procession. Jerusalem’s artisans would stand and greet them, saying: “People of such and such a place, we welcome you.” (Mishnah Bikkurim 3:3.) They played the flute until they reached the Temple Mount. On the Temple Mount, even King Agrippa would carry the basket of first fruits on his shoulder and walk to the Temple Court. As the procession approached the Temple Court, Levites would sing the words of Psalm 30:2: “I will extol You, O Lord, for You have raised me up, and have not suffered my enemies to rejoice over me.” (Mishnah Bikkurim 3:4.)

The pilgrims offered turtledoves that had been tied to the basket as burnt offerings. And they gave what they held in their hands to the priests. (Mishnah Bikkurim 3:5.) While the pilgrims still held the basket on their shoulders, they would recite Deuteronomy 26:3–10. Rabbi Judah said that they read only through Deuteronomy 26:5, “A wandering Aramean was my father.” When they reached these words, the pilgrims took the baskets off their shoulders and held them by their edges. The priests would put their hands beneath the baskets and wave them while the pilgrims recited from “A wandering Aramean was my father” through the end of the passage. The pilgrims would then deposit their baskets by the side of the altar, bow, and leave. (Mishnah Bikkurim 3:6.)

The Gemara cited two textual proofs for the instruction of Mishnah Bikkurim 2:4 that one waived the first fruits. Rabbi Judah interpreted the words “you shall set it down” in Deuteronomy 26:10 to refer to the waving. The Gemara explained that these words could not refer literally to setting the basket down, because Deuteronomy 26:4 already accounted for setting the basket down. Alternatively, Rabbi Eliezer ben Jacob deduced the requirement to waive the first fruits from the word “hand” occurring in both Deuteronomy 26:4 and in the case of the peace-offering in Leviticus 7:30, which says, “His own hands shall bring the offering unto the Lord.” The Gemara concluded that just as Deuteronomy 26:4 explicitly directs the priest to take the basket and wave it, so in Leviticus 7:30, the priest was to take the offering and wave it, even though Leviticus 7:30 refers only to the donor. And just as Leviticus 7:30 explicitly directs the donor to waves the offering, so in Deuteronomy 26:4, the donor was to wave the basket. The Gemara explained that it was possible for both the priest and the donor to perform the waving because the priest placed his hand under the hand of the donor and they waved the basket together. (Babylonian Talmud Sukkah 47b.)

Originally, all who knew how to recite would recite, while those unable to do so would repeat after the priest. But when the number of pilgrims declined, it was decided that all pilgrims would repeat the words after the priest. (Mishnah Bikkurim 3:7.)

The Mishnah taught that converts to Judaism would bring the first fruits but not recite, as they could not say the words of Deuteronomy 26:3, “which the Lord swore to our fathers, to give us.” (Mishnah Bikkurim 1:3.) But it was taught in a Baraita in the name of Rabbi Judah that even converts both brought first fruits and recited, for when God changed Abram’s name to Abraham in Genesis 17:3–5, God made Abraham “the father of a multitude of nations,” meaning that Abraham would become the spiritual father of all who would accept the true belief in God. (Jerusalem Talmud Bikkurim 5b.)

The rich brought their first fruits in baskets overlaid with silver or gold, while the poor used wicker baskets. Pilgrims would give both the first fruits and the baskets to the priest. (Mishnah Bikkurim 3:8.)

Rabbi Simeon ben Nanos said that the pilgrims could decorate their first fruits with produce other than the seven species, but Rabbi Akiba said that they could decorate only with produce of the seven kinds. (Mishnah Bikkurim 3:9.) Rabbi Simeon taught that there were three elements to the first fruits: the first fruits themselves, the additions to the first fruits, and the ornamentations of the first fruits. The additions to the first fruits had to be like the first fruits, but the ornamental fruit could be of another kind. The additions to the first fruits could only be eaten in Levitical purity, and were exempt from the law of doubts as to tithing (demai), but the fruits used for ornamentations were subject to the law of doubts as to tithing. (Mishnah Bikkurim 3:10.)

The Gemara reported a number of Rabbis’ reports of how the Land of Israel did indeed flow with “milk and honey,” as described in Exodus 3:8 and 17, 13:5, and 33:3, Leviticus 20:24, Numbers 13:27 and 14:8, and Deuteronomy 6:3, 11:9, 26:9 and 15, 27:3, and 31:20. Once when Rami bar Ezekiel visited Bnei Brak, he saw goats grazing under fig trees while honey was flowing from the figs, and milk dripped from the goats mingling with the fig honey, causing him to remark that it was indeed a land flowing with milk and honey. Rabbi Jacob ben Dostai said that it is about three miles from Lod to Ono, and once he rose up early in the morning and waded all that way up to his ankles in fig honey. Resh Lakish said that he saw the flow of the milk and honey of Sepphoris extend over an area of sixteen miles by sixteen miles. Rabbah bar Bar Hana said that he saw the flow of the milk and honey in all the Land of Israel and the total area was equal to an area of twenty-two parasangs by six parasangs. (Babylonian Talmud Ketubot 111b12a.)

Deuteronomy chapter 27

Rabbi Judah expounded the words of Deuteronomy 27:9, “Attend and hear, O Israel: This day you have become a people unto the Lord your God.” Rabbi Judah asked whether it was on that day that the Torah was given to Israel; was that day not at the end of the 40 years of the wandering in the Wilderness? Rabbi Judah explained that the words “this day” served to teach that every day the Torah is as beloved to those who study it as on the day when God gave it at Mount Sinai. The Gemara explained that the word “attend” (הַסְכֵּת, hasket) in Deuteronomy 27:9 teaches that students should form groups (aso kitot) to study the Torah, as one can acquire knowledge of the Torah only in association with others, and this is in accord with what Rabbi Jose ben Hanina said when he interpreted the words of Jeremiah 50:36, “A sword is upon the boasters (בַּדִּים, baddim) and they shall become fools,” to mean that a sword is upon the scholars who sit separately (bad bebad) to study the Torah. The Gemara offered another explanation of the word “attend” (הַסְכֵּת, hasket) in Deuteronomy 27:9 to mean, “be silent” (has) listening to the lesson, and then “analyze” (katet), as Raba taught that a person should always first learn Torah, and then scrutinize it. (Babylonian Talmud Berachot 63b.)

Gerizim

Mount Gerizim

Our Rabbis asked in a Baraita why Deuteronomy 11:29 says, “You shall set the blessing upon Mount Gerizim and the curse upon mount Ebal.” Deuteronomy 11:29 cannot say so merely to teach where the Israelites were to say the blessings and curses, as Deuteronomy 27:12–13 already says, “These shall stand upon Mount Gerizim to bless the people . . . and these shall stand upon Mount Ebal for the curse.” Rather, the Rabbis taught that the purpose of Deuteronomy 11:29 was to indicate that the blessings must precede the curses. It is possible to think that all the blessings must precede all the curses; therefore the text states “blessing” and “curse” in the singular, and thus teaches that one blessing precedes one curse, alternating blessings and curses, and all the blessings do not precede all the curses. A further purpose of Deuteronomy 11:29 is to draw a comparison between blessings and curses: As the curse was pronounced by the Levites, so the blessing had to be pronounced by the Levites. As the curse was uttered in a loud voice, so the blessing had to be uttered in a loud voice. As the curse was said in Hebrew, so the blessing had to be said in Hebrew. As the curses were in general and particular terms, so must the blessings had to be in general and particular terms. And as with the curse both parties respond “Amen,” so with the blessing both parties respond “Amen.” (Babylonian Talmud Sotah 37b.)

The Mishnah told how the Levites pronounced the blessings and curses. When the Israelites crossed the Jordan and came to Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, six tribes ascended Mount Gerizim and six tribes ascended Mount Ebal. The priests and Levites with the Ark of the Covenant stationed themselves below in the center. The priests surrounded the Ark, the Levites surrounded the priests, and all the Israelites stood on this side and that of the Levites, as Joshua 8:33 says, “And all Israel, and their elders and officers, and their judges stood on this side the ark and on that side.” The Levites turned their faces towards Mount Gerizim and opened with the blessing: “Blessed be the man who does not make a graven or molten image,” and all the Israelites responded, “Amen.” Then the Levites turned their faces towards Mount Ebal and opened with the curse of Deuteronomy 27:15: “Cursed be the man who makes a graven or molten image,” and all the Israelites responded, “Amen.” So they continued until they had completed all the blessings and curses. (Mishnah Sotah 7:5; Babylonian Talmud Sotah 32a.)

Rabbi Judah ben Nahmani, the interpreter of Simeon ben Lakish, taught that the whole section of the blessings and curses refers to adultery. Deuteronomy 27:15 says, “Cursed be the man who makes a graven or molten image.” Is it enough merely to curse such a person in this world? Rather, Rabbi Judah ben Nahmani taught that Deuteronomy 27:15 alludes to one who comits adultery and has a son who goes to live among idolaters and worships idols; cursed be the father and mother of this man, as they were the cause of his sinning. (Babylonian Talmud Sotah 37b.)

A midrash noted that almost everywhere, Scripture mentions a father's honor before the mother's honor. (E.g., Exodus 20:11 (20:12 in NJSP), Deuteronomy 5:15 (5:16 in NJPS), 27:16.) But Leviticus 19:3 mentions the mother first to teach that one should honor both parents equally. (Genesis Rabbah 1:15.)

Rabbi Aha said in the name of Rabbi Tanhum that if a person studies Torah and teaches it, observes and performs its precepts, but has the means to support needy scholars and fails to do so, then that person comes within the words of Deuteronomy 27:26: “Cursed be he who does not confirm the words of this law.” But if a person studies and does not teach or observe or perform the precepts, and does not have the means to support needy scholars and yet does so by self-denial, then that person comes within the category of “Blessed be he who confirms the words of this law,” for every “cursed” implies a “blessed.” (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:19.) Similarly, a midrash taught that had Deuteronomy 27:26 read, “Cursed be he who does not learn the words of the law,” then Israel would not have been able to survive, but Deuteronomy 27:26 reads, “who does not confirm the words of this law,” and so the Hebrew implies that one may avoid the curse through the maintenance of Torah students and colleges. (Leviticus Rabbah 25:1.)

A midrash taught that there is nothing greater before God than the “amen” that Israel answers. Rabbi Judah ben Sima taught that the word “amen” contains three kinds of solemn declarations: oath, consent, and confirmation. Numbers 5:21–22 demonstrates oath when it says, “Then the priest shall cause the woman to swear . . . and the woman shall say: ‘Amen, Amen.’” Deuteronomy 27:26 demonstrates consent when it says “And all the people shall say: ‘Amen.’” And 1 Kings 1:36 demonstrates confirmation when it says, “And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, and said: ‘Amen; so say the Lord.’” (Deuteronomy Rabbah 7:1; see also Babylonian Talmud Shevuot 36a (similar teaching attributed to Rabbi Jose ben Hanina).)

The Mishnah told that after they had completed all the blessings and curses, the Israelites brought the stones that Moses directed them to set up in Deuteronomy 27:2–4, built the altar and plastered it with plaster, and inscribed on it all the words of the Torah in 70 languages, as Deuteronomy 27:8 says, “very plainly.” Then they took the stones and spent the night in their place. (Mishnah Sotah 7:5; Babylonian Talmud Sotah 32a–b.)

Deuteronomy chapter 28

A midrash interpreted Deuteronomy 28:1 to teach that Moses told Israel to be diligent to listen to the words of the Torah, because whoever listens to the words of the Torah is exalted in both this world and the world to come. (Deuteronomy Rabbah 7:1.)

Reading the words “to observe to do all His commandments” in Deuteronomy 28:1, Rabbi Simeon ben Halafta taught that one who learns the words of the Torah and does not fulfill them receives punishment more severe than does the one who has not learned at all. (Deuteronomy Rabbah 7:3.)

A midrash expounded on why Israel was, in the words of Jeremiah 11:16, like “a leafy olive tree.” In one explanation, the midrash taught that just as oil floats to the top even after it has been mixed with every kind of liquid, so Israel, as long as it performs the will of God, will be set on high by God, as it says in Deuteronomy 28:1. (Exodus Rabbah 36:1; see also Deuteronomy Rabbah 7:3.)

Reading Deuteronomy 28:1–2, “And it shall come to pass, if you hearken diligently to the voice of the Lord . . . all these blessings shall come upon you, and overtake you,” and Proverbs 8:35, “whoever finds Me finds life, and obtains favor of the Lord,” a midrash taught that God tells Jews that not merely do they receive the Divine Presence in the synagogue, but they also leave it laden with blessings. (Deuteronomy Rabbah 7:2.)

Angelo Bronzino 024

Pharaoh’s army drowns in the sea (fresco by Angelo Bronzino)

The Mishnah taught that when they flogged a person, a reader would read Deuteronomy 28:58ff, beginning “If you will not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book . . . ,” then Deuteronomy 29:8, “Observe therefore the words of this covenant,” and then Psalm 78:38, “But He, being full of compassion, forgives iniquity.” (Mishnah Makkot 3:14; Babylonian Talmud Makkot 22b.)

Rabbi Johanan taught that God does not rejoice in the downfall of the wicked. Rabbi Johanan interpreted the words zeh el zeh in the phrase “And one did not come near the other all the night” in Exodus 14:20 to teach that when the Egyptians were drowning in the sea, the ministering angels wanted to sing a song of rejoicing, as Isaiah 6:3 associates the words zeh el zeh with angelic singing. But God rebuked them: “The work of my hands is being drowned in the sea, and you want to sing songs?” Rabbi Eleazar replied that a close reading of Deuteronomy 28:63 shows that God does not rejoice personally, but does make others rejoice. (Babylonian Talmud Megillah 10b.)

Deuteronomy chapter 29

Rabbi Eleazar interpreted the words, “Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and make them,” in Deuteronomy 29:8 to teach that Scripture regards one who teaches Torah to a neighbor’s child as though he himself had created the words of the Torah, as it is written. (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 99b.)

Commandments

According to Maimonides and Sefer ha-Chinuch, there are 3 positive and 3 negative commandments in the parshah.

(Maimonides. Mishneh Torah, Positive Commandments 8, 131, 132; Negative Commandments 150, 151, 152. Cairo, Egypt, 1170–1180. Reprinted in Maimonides. The Commandments: Sefer Ha-Mitzvoth of Maimonides. Translated by Charles B. Chavel, 1:11–12, 139–40; 2:141–43. London: Soncino Press, 1967. ISBN 0-900689-71-4. Sefer HaHinnuch: The Book of [Mitzvah] Education. Translated by Charles Wengrov, 5:414–31. Jerusalem: Feldheim Pub., 1988. ISBN 0-87306-497-6.)

Isaiah-Michelangelo

Isaiah

Haftarah

The haftarah for the parshah is Isaiah 60:1–22. The haftarah is the sixth in the cycle of seven haftarot of consolation after Tisha B'Av, leading up to Rosh Hashanah.

In the liturgy

The Passover Haggadah, in the magid section of the Seder, quotes and interprets Deuteronomy 26:5–8. (Menachem Davis. The Interlinear Haggadah: The Passover Haggadah, with an Interlinear Translation, Instructions and Comments, 42–50. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2005. ISBN 1-57819-064-9. Joseph Tabory. JPS Commentary on the Haggadah: Historical Introduction, Translation, and Commentary, 89–95. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2008. ISBN 978-0-8276-0858-0.)

Haggadah 14th cent

A page from a 14th century German Haggadah

The Haggadah interprets the report of Deuteronomy 26:5, often translated as “a wandering Aramean was my father,” to mean instead that Laban the Aramean tried to destroy Jacob. (Davis, at 42–43; Tabory, at 89.) Next, the Haggadah cites Genesis 47:4, Deuteronomy 10:22, Exodus 1:7, and Ezekiel 16:6–7 to elucidate Deuteronomy 26:5. (Davis, at 43–45; Tabory, at 90–91.) The Haggadah quotes Genesis 47:4 for the proposition that the Israelites had sojourned in Egypt. (Davis, at 43; Tabory, at 90.) The Haggadah quotes Deuteronomy 10:22 for the proposition that the Israelites started few in number. (Davis, at 44; Tabory, at 90.) The Haggadah quotes Exodus 1:7 for the proposition that the Israelites had become “great” and “mighty.” (Davis, at 44; Tabory, at 91.) And the Haggadah quotes Ezekiel 16:6–7 to elucidate the report in Deuteronomy 26:5 that the Israelites had nonetheless become “numerous.” (Davis, at 44–45; Tabory, at 91.)

Next, the Haggadah cites Exodus 1:10–13 to elucidate the report in Deuteronomy 26:6 that “the Egyptians dealt ill with us [the Israelites], and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage.” (Davis, at 45–46; Tabory, at 91–92.) The Haggadah quotes Exodus 1:10 for the proposition that the Egyptians attributed evil intentions to the Israelites or dealt ill with them. (Davis, at 45; Tabory, at 91.) The Haggadah quotes Exodus 1:11 for the proposition that the Egyptians afflicted the Israelites. (Davis, at 45; Tabory, at 92.) And the Haggadah quotes Exodus 1:13 for the proposition that the Egyptians imposed hard labor on the Israelites. (Davis, at 46; Tabory, at 92.)

Kaufmann Haggadah p 014

A page from the Kaufmann Haggadah

Next, the Haggadah cites Exodus 2:23–25, Exodus 1:22, and Exodus 3:9 to elucidate the report in Deuteronomy 26:7 that “we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice, and saw our affliction, and our toil, and our oppression.” (Davis, at 46–47; Tabory, at 92–93.) The Haggadah quotes Exodus 2:23 for the proposition that the Israelites cried to God. (Davis, at 46; Tabory, at 92.) The Haggadah quotes Exodus 2:24 for the proposition that God heard the Israelites’ voice. (Davis, at 46–47; Tabory, at 92.) The Haggadah quotes Exodus 2:25 for the proposition that God saw the Israelites’ affliction, interpreting that affliction as the suspension of family life. (Davis, at 47; Tabory, at 92.) The Haggadah quotes Exodus 1:22 to explain the Israelites’ travail, interpreting that travail as the loss of the baby boys. (Davis, at 47; Tabory, at 93.) And the Haggadah quotes Exodus 3:9 to explain the Israelites’ oppression, interpreting that oppression as pressure or persecution. (Davis, at 47; Tabory, at 93.)

Next, the Haggadah cites Exodus 12:12, Exodus 9:3, 1 Chronicles 21:16, Deuteronomy 4:34, Exodus 4:17, and Joel 3:3 to elucidate the report in Deuteronomy 26:8 that “the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders.” (Davis, at 48–50; Tabory, at 93–94.) The Haggadah quotes Exodus 12:12 for the proposition that God took the Israelites out of Egypt, not through an angel, not through a seraph, not through an agent, but on God’s own. (Davis, at 48–49; Tabory, at 93–94.) The Haggadah quotes Exodus 9:3 to elucidate the term “a mighty hand” in Deuteronomy 26:8, interpreting the “mighty hand” to mean the plague of pestilence on the Egyptian livestock. (Davis, at 49; Tabory, at 94.) The Haggadah quotes 1 Chronicles 21:16 to elucidate the term “an outstretched arm” in Deuteronomy 26:8, interpreting the “outstretched arm” to mean the sword. (Davis, at 49; Tabory, at 94.) The Haggadah quotes Deuteronomy 4:34 to elucidate the term “great terribleness” in Deuteronomy 26:8, interpreting the “great terribleness” to mean the revelation of the Shekhinah or Divine Presence. (Davis, at 49–50; Tabory, at 94.) The Haggadah quotes Exodus 4:17 to elucidate the term “signs” in Deuteronomy 26:8, interpreting the “sign” to mean the staff of Moses. (Davis, at 50; Tabory, at 94.) And the Haggadah quotes Joel 3:3 to elucidate the term “wonders” in Deuteronomy 26:8, interpreting the “wonders” to mean the blood. (Davis, at 50; Tabory, at 94.)

Further reading

The parshah has parallels or is discussed in these sources:

Relief Esarhaddon Louvre AO20185

Esarhaddon

Ancient

Biblical

Philon

Philo

Early nonrabbinic

Josephus

Josephus

Classical rabbinic

  • Mishnah Maasrot 1:1–5:8; Maaser Sheni 1:1–5:15; Bikkurim 1:1–3:12; Makkot 3:14. Land of Israel, circa 200 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-300-05022-4.
  • Sifre to Deuteronomy 297:1–303:11 Land of Israel, circa 250–350 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., Sifre to Deuteronomy: An Analytical Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 2:269–285. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1987. ISBN 1-55540-145-7.
  • Jerusalem Talmud: Berakhot 54b; Peah 31b, 47b, 69b, 72a; Sheviit 33a; Maasrot 26a, 27b; Maaser Sheni 12b, 13b, 52b, 56b–57a, 58a; Orlah 20a; Bikkurim 1a–26b; Sukkah 28b. Land of Israel, circa 400 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Yerushalmi. Edited by Chaim Malinowitz, Yisroel Simcha Schorr, and Mordechai Marcus, vols. 2–3, 6a, 9–10, 12, 22. Brooklyn: Mesorah Pubs., 2006–2009.
First page of the first tractate of the Talmud (Daf Beis of Maseches Brachos)

Talmud

Rashi woodcut

Rashi

Medieval

  • Deuteronomy Rabbah 7:1–7. Land of Israel, 9th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Leviticus. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
  • Rashi. Commentary. Deuteronomy 26–29. Troyes, France, late 11th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Rashi. The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary Translated, Annotated, and Elucidated. Translated and annotated by Yisrael Isser Zvi Herczeg, 5:267–302. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1997. ISBN 0-89906-030-7.
  • Judah Halevi. Kuzari. 2:55; 3:11. Toledo, Spain, 1130–1140. Reprinted in, e.g., Jehuda Halevi. Kuzari: An Argument for the Faith of Israel. Intro. by Henry Slonimsky, 116–17, 144, 148. New York: Schocken, 1964. ISBN 0-8052-0075-4.
File:Rambam.jpg
  • Maimonides. Mishneh Torah, Intro.:26. Cairo, Egypt, 1170–1180.
  • Maimonides. Letter to Obadiah the Proselyte. Spain, 12th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., A Treasury of Jewish Letters: Letters from the Famous and the Humble. Edited by Franz Kobler, 1:194–96. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1953.

Modern

External links

Texts

Commentaries

Old book bindings


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