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Home » Ki Tavo

Ki Tavo: Pondering the Harvest

Submitted by on September 3, 2006 – 7:55 pmNo Comment | 2,355 views

A Fruit Offering

“As you enter the land that G-d your lord has given to you and inherit it and settle it. You shall take from the first…fruit of the earth… and bring it to… G-d.”

This verse carries an apparent contradiction. Were these instructions to be carried out as soon our ancestors entered the land or only after they inherited and settled it? Also, why the emphasis on the fact that G-d our lord has given us this land?

Whose Land is it Anyway?

As Jews entered Israel they were instructed not to view the land as theirs by right, but as a gift from the Almighty. G-d’s gift is purposeful. It is given so that we can in turn offer our gratitude to him in the form of worship and devotion. As the Torah puts it, so that he can become “our lord.”

As such, G-d instructed our ancestors to offer the first fruits of the harvest to G-d and to thank him for the harvest bounty. In doing so, Jews came to recognize G-d as the cause of their success. It is easy to misconstrue a successful harvest as the product of hard labor and meticulous planning. It is easy to forget that only G-d’s blessing can persuade the land to yield its produce.

Though this lesson was to be imparted immediately upon entry it could not be actually implemented till the first harvest when fruit was offered to G-d in recognition of his blessing. This is why the Torah speaks both of entering the land and of settling it.

Reflection

In Israel, Jews have turned an arid wasteland into a flourishing oasis; we have made the deserts bloom. It is true that we have inherited and settled the land by the sweat of our brow and the toil of our hands. Yet we must remember that our hold on this land is first and foremost G-d given.

He gave it to us so that he might be our lord.