This week as we read Parashat Ki Tavo, we begin our countdown to the High Holydays. We have a huge number of exciting events happening for the next weeks.
Parashat Ki Tavo begins with the ceremony of the bringing of the first fruits to the Temple. It outlines the procedure for a farmer who harvests the first fruits of their field to bring that produce to the Temple as an offering. The farmer approaches the priest and presents his offering whereupon the priest takes it from him and places it before the altar. The farmer then recites a passage, familiar to us from the Pesach seder; “my father was a wandering Aramean…” and continues to recount the exodus from Egypt, God’s deliverance and the giving of the land from which the produce came. It is a really interesting passage which tells the history of our people and acknowledges the bringer’s place in that history. It is the only proscriptive prayer in the Torah and interestingly, the farmer had to bring the offering and recite the words himself, he was not permitted to deputize someone else. The farmer had to stand in the holy space, feel the power of the moment, link himself to his past and offer gratitude for the blessings of the harvest and sustenance.
What a powerful message for us. Today there is so much that we “outsource” to save time, for efficiency or simply because we no longer have the skills to perform the task. This passage reminds us that there are some things that we should not hand over to others, they are important moments and to feel their power, to truly connect to the ritual we need to be present, to do it ourselves It is difficult in our world to stop and take time to reflect, to think about our place in history, our link in the chain, our purpose, to be grateful. Shabbat is our opportunity each week to feel the power of that connection, to join hands across time and participate in something magical and sheltered from all the stresses and challenges of our daily lives. It is easy to get caught up in the race of life, to put off until next week a celebration of Shabbat, to leave it to others to take care of. But like the Israelites bringing their offerings to the Temple, to truly feel the power and blessing of Shabbat we need to participate and do it ourselves. Take time to make the day special, set it apart as a beautiful oasis, away from everything which causes us frustration in our daily lives and celebrate a moment of eternity where everything fades into the background except what brings you pleasure, joy and rest.