Sunday, September 02, 2012

Ki Savo Parsha Summary: A history lesson, over fruit

NEW!!!  Download this summary as an MP3 audio file (large – may take 1-2 minutes or more, depending on your Internet speed).  I know it’s a rough first effort; feedback VERY welcome!

This is a basic overview of the parsha story in a format that can be adapted for a wide range of ages. Sources include parsha text, commentaries and midrash.  When introducing midrash or other non-pshat elements, I  use the words “some people think” or something similar. (find out why)

Please see the Vayeishev overview for how we use these narratives  in our homeschool.  I also have copywork sheets to go with the weekly parsha… enjoy!


Four more parshiyos to go… are you ready for Rosh Hashanah? :-)

This week’s parsha starts with the words (v’haya, “and it will be”) Ki Savo, “when you come.” Come where? Just like all of Devarim, it’s about entering eretz Yisrael – an amazing place with seven special fruits, flowing with milk and honey.

So that’s the end of the story – right?

No! Even though we’ll be finished the Torah soon, there are many more amazing adventures when Yehoshua actually leads bnei Yisrael into their land. Those stories are in sefer Yehoshua. It’s not part of the Torah, but it’s the first book of Navi – writings of the Nevi’im who led us after Moshe died.

The Torah is just the FIRST section of our story!

There are three sections of important books that tell the earliest stories and lessons of bnei Yisrael. The first section is the Torah, which we read parsha by parsha, all year long. The second section is Navi – we read part of Navi every week as the haftorah. The third section is called Kesuvim – writings. These include important messages and poems left for us by great leaders like David HaMelech, along with stories like those of Rus and Esther. The first letters of each section are: ת/T, נ/N, כּ/K. But a “כּ” in Hebrew can also be a “כ” or, at the end of a word, a “ך”. So if you put those three letters together, you get “תַּנַךְ” – a word we pronounce “Tanach.” In English, it’s sometimes also called “The Jewish Bible.”

This parsha starts with the mitzvah of Bikkurim.

In many families, the kids are careful to serve food first to their parents, who worked hard to earn the money and cook for them and teach them. The same way, a farmer in eretz Yisrael must serve Hashem before eating his fruits and vegetables, by gathering a basket with the first of everything that grew and bringing it to the bais HaMikdash.

But he can’t just drop off the basket and leave: first, he has to recite a history lesson!

The farmer has to recite the story from Shemos about Yaakov going down to live in Mitzrayim, and Paroh treating us cruelly, and finally, Hashem taking us out and bringing us to eretz Yisrael. Of course, Hashem doesn’t just want our food (He doesn’t even eat it!). There’s a famous expression: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” By remembering the lessons of our past, we can become the strong, free nation Hashem meant us to be.

Some people say the Torah is like a marriage.

When two people get married, they agree that they are going to be together, have a family, take care of each other. They choose each other and hope to build a home full of love and happiness. In return, they each have a job to do – they have to share their money and take care of each other. Moshe reminds us that we chose Hashem, and Hashem chose us. Hashem wants to make us holy (special to Him!) and we want to show our love by taking care of His mitzvos.

Have you ever been to a wedding? It’s just about the most amazing thing!

Everybody is dressed up, it’s beautiful, it’s exciting. But right in the middle, we stop everything so the mesader kiddushin (the leader, or a rabbi) can read the kesubah. It’s a long piece of paper written in Aramis (Aramaic; an old language written with Hebrew letters, so it looks almost the same!) that tells the names of the chassan and kallah, where they’re getting married, what all the chassan’s responsibilities are. What a boring piece of paper! We stop all the fancy business to read the kesubah to remind everybody that marriage is a serious job, with rules.

Being Jewish is a job, too. So before we get too excited, we have to stop and read the rules.

Just like with the kesubah, Moshe says that when they get to eretz Yisrael, the leader must write the entire Torah on giant stones, shouting “Pay attention!” Yehoshua will do this right away as soon as they cross the river Yardein!

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Now, picture two mountains, with a valley in between them.

Half the shevatim had to stand on one mountain, and half on the other. In between, in the valley, were the Levi’im, shouting out brachos (blessings) and klalos (curses). The brachas were wonderful! “Your children, your animals, your crops will grow strong and healthy! Your enemies will flee! The world will know that you are Hashem’s special people!” But just as terrible were the many klalos. “Your children will be slaves; your animals and crops will die! You will be confused and weak, and the world will make fun of you!” After each bracha or klala, everyone had to answer “Amein!”

Just like a parent, Hashem can tell us what to do over and over and over – but eventually, it’s our choice.

Are we going to do mitzvos, and choose all the good things Hashem has promised? Or do aveiros and choose all the bad things that could happen instead? Although people might say it’s too hard to do mitzvos, we’ll learn in next week’s parsha that Moshe believed none of the mitzvos was too hard for any Jewish person…

1 comment:

  1. I checked out your Mp3, and your voice sounds slowed down. But still a cute summary, and I'm going to put it into my batch of resources for the week!

    ReplyDelete

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