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Home » Ki Tavo

Ki Tavo: Content with our Lot

Submitted by on September 3, 2006 – 7:54 pmNo Comment | 2,246 views

The Impoverished Levite

“And you shall rejoice with all of the bounty that Hashem your lord has given to you, to your household, and to the Levite.” The Torah encourages us to count our blessings, to rejoice, and to be satisfied with our lot.

In ancient days the Levite was not given a portion in the land of Israel; he lived largely by the largess of Israelites and was often impoverished. Why does the Torah encourage us to reflect upon the lot of the Levite in order to find cause for joy? Are we meant to rejoice in his suffering?

Clearly the Torah wants us to share of our wealth with the Levite and all others in need. Yet in this essay we strive for a deeper meaning. Not only what we  give to the Levite but also what we receive from him.

Satisfaction is a Learned Trait

The old adage, is the glass half-empty or half-full can be applied to this verse. Regardless of how much we have been given we always look with envy toward those higher up on the totem pole. The Torah instructs us to look toward those who are lower, those who have less, and thereby recognize how truly fortunate we are. To count our blessings despite their supposed paucity.

On a deeper level the Torah instructs us to look to the Levite for inspiration. His means are modest, yet he is happy. If he can be content with so little how dare we be unsatisfied with our bounty? Who knows? Perhaps teaching the nation the true meaning of joy even in a time of scarcity is the purpose of the Levite’s suffering.

Story

The Besht once sent two of his disciples to learn from a poor man how to accept poverty with joy. The poverty in this man’s home was unbearable, yet he was practically aglow with joy as he invited them to spend the night. When informed of the purpose for their visit the man exclaimed, “but why has the Besht sent you to me? I’m not suffering!”