Ki Tavo contains the formulaic utterance given with first fruit offerings. “My father was a wandering Aramean…” Devarim 26:5. It was supposed to be given from memory. So concerned were the Sages that a lack of education kept some from coming to the Temple that they instituted a practice of having each person, irrespective of education, wealth or station, recite the words repeating after the Kohen. In that way, no one should be ashamed or embarrassed about a lack of knowledge. The phenomenon of Jews of different levels of knowledge, education and familiarity with liturgy is as old as our faith. Just as old is the principal that all are welcome, encouraged and respected.
This is an important tenet of Judaism. God loves each and every one of us and wants us to be engaged with the divine and to have active prayer lives. There are to be no barriers between us and God, especially not barriers that we set up for ourselves because we somehow feel disconnected. Lack of knowledge of Hebrew is no impediment. God understands every language, the utterances of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts. We learn that at this time of the year, in the month of Elul, God is even more approachable, as if the King leaves the palace to meet the people in the shopping center (okay the Midrash is really that God comes into the fields, but we may spend more time at the shopping center than in the fields).
Ki Tavo reminds us that the important thing is to be a part of the community and to show gratitude to God for all of our blessings.
This Shabbat we learn with Rabbi Rachel Shere. 9:45 a.m. Come as you are. Stay as long as you like.
This message does not go to everyone, so if you know of anyone who might enjoy Torah Study on a Shabbat morning (whether they come for all or any other part of the Shabbat experience), please forward this note to them or let me know. All are welcome. This is a group learning experience. No one should be thrown off by the phrase “Torah Study.” Our teachers are more like facilitators. These are not lectures. They are adventures. There is dialogue and exchange.
Shabbat shalom and shanah tovah!
P.S. I am a volunteer. Adat Shalom does not ask me to send this note. I do it because I want to and enjoy doing so. I really like the Torah Study. This is just one of the many things Adat Shalom offers that is so fabulous and that makes me feel so at home.
P.S.S. Watch this to get in the mood for Rosh Hashanah. Zachreinu L’chayim. Remember us for life! Or watch this: It will blow you away.