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The Torah's Weekly Portions
Deuteronomy/Dvarim - Ki Tavo 101
Posted March, 2001
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Ki Tavo encompasses Perek Chav-Vav (Chapter 26) through Perek Chav-Tet, pasu chet (Chapter 26, verse 8).  Although a relatively short Parashah, it is quite detailed.  For this week, I would like to focus on a general commentary by Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch that centers around a number psukim in Perek Chav-Zayin (27):

15. 'Accursed is the man who will make a graven or molten image, an abomination of Hashem, a craftsman's handiwork, and emplace it in secret.' And the entire people shall speak up and say, 'Amen.'

16. 'Accursed is one who degrades his father or mother.' And the entire people shall say, 'Amen.'

17. 'Accursed is one who moves the boundary of his fellow.' And the entire people shall say, 'Amen.'

18. 'Accursed is one who causes a blind person to go astray on the road.' And the entire people shall say, 'Amen.'

19. 'Accursed is one who perverts a judgment of a proselyte, orphan, or widow.' And the entire people shall say, 'Amen.'

20. 'Accursed is one who lies with the wife of his father, for he will have uncovered the robe of his father.' And the entire people shall say, 'Amen.'

21. 'Accursed is one who lies with any animal.' And the entire people shall say, 'Amen.'

22. 'Accursed is one who lies with his sister, the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.' And the entire people shall say, 'Amen.'

23. 'Accursed is one who lies with his mother-in-law.' And the entire people shall say, 'Amen.'

24. 'Accursed is one who strikes his fellow stealthily.' And the entire people shall say, 'Amen.'

25. 'Accursed is one who takes a bribe to kill a person of innocent blood.' And the entire people shall say, 'Amen.'

26. 'Accursed is one who will not uphold the words of this Torah, to perform them.' And the entire people shall say, 'Amen.'"

It appears that there are some very straight-forward guidelines contained here on which to base a solid moral life.  What I have always found interesting is that the first two points are respect toward God, the all-encompassing parent, followed by respect for our earthly parents.  It is said in Judaism that it takes three partners to create a new life - the man, the woman, and God.  In these first two commandments, the Torah seems to show the importance of proper respect for that partnership.

With that point made, this is one of Rav Hirsch's commentary on this section:

Taking them altogether, these curses would express the thought that all blessing is denied to him who outwardly plays the pious man devoted to God, but in secret denies the exclusive existence of One God and His Rule; who outwardly is respectful to his parents but inwardly considers himself superior to them; who in the eyes of men preserves the reputation of an honest man, but where it is unobserved does not hesitate to injure the rights of his neighbor to his own advantage; who is full of enthusiasm for the welfare of his neighbors in the presence of clever and intelligent people, but pushes shortsighted and blind people into misfortune; who grovels before the powerful, but denies the weak and helpless their rights; pretends to be a highly respectable member of society, to wallow in sexual licentiousness in intimate privacy.  [Verses 20-24 cover the person] who does not dig a dagger into his neighbor, but under the cloak of conversation murders his happiness, his peace and his honor [by speaking loshon hara]; who enjoys the highest confidence in his community but misuses it in secret corruption; finally also one, even if he lives correctly and dutifully for himself still looks with indifference on the abandonment of the duties of the Torah in his immediate and wider circles.


Translations in Torah Portions of the week are partially taken from the ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash and from Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch Chumash

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