Skip To Main Content
[Dvar Torah] Ki Tavo

In Parashat Ki Tavo Moshe ends his explanation of the covenant (agreement) between Hashem and his people. In addition, Moshe issues commandments about bringing first-fruits to the Temple.

Moshe spends most of the book of Devarim retelling the national story to the new generation, reminding them of what G-d has done for their parents and also of some of the mistakes their parents had made. Moshe, as well as being the great liberator, is the supreme storyteller. Yet what he does in Parshat Ki Tavo extends far beyond this because in this parsha, Moshe commands the Israelites to become storytellers themselves. 

At harvest time, the Israelites were commanded to bring their first fruits of the season to the Temple. We know from the Mishnah that this was a big deal; people came from all over the country accompanied by music and celebrations. But these celebrations were not enough. Each person had to make a declaration when bringing the fruits. Those declarations became the best known passages in the Torah. Why ? Because this passage is read on Pesach and is the main part of the Haggadah. 

… and he went down into Egypt and lived there, few in number, and there became a great nation, powerful and numerous. But the Egyptians ill-treated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labour. Then we cried out to the L-rd, the G-d of our ancestors, and the L-rd heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. So the L-rd brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. (Devarim 26:5-8)

This passage summarizes the exodus story. Here for the first time the retelling of the nation’s history becomes an obligation for every citizen of the nation. In this act, known as vidui bikkurim, “the confession made over first-fruits,” Jews were commanded to become a nation of storytellers. 

Why are stories so important? Because the stories of our families are part of us and who we are in the present. They make us feel a link in a very long chain of generations and remind us to be grateful for who we are and for what we have. It also gives us a path to the future. So one of the most powerful messages of this Parsha is this: remember your history but remember to tell your own story too, and pass it on to others. In this way, we make our own lives meaningful. 

Shabbat Shalom.