I hope this can be a weekly thing, I force an off the derech dude to learn some torah and in turn, I actually learn what parsha it is this week.
Hello, children, and welcome back to another edition of Shabbos Torah with Schwartzie. In this week’s parsha, Ki Savo- or, Ki Tavo to those of you who wish you were Israeli- Am Yisrael reaches maturity as a nation. Heretofore, there had been whining and sinning, petty actions by the Jews and appropriately petty punishments by God- I’m always taken by the situation with the slaves, for example.
The Jews piss and moan for meat, and then Hashem gives it to them, but in such a frustrated way. “You want meat?” He asks. “I’ll give you meat till it comes out your noses!” His words, not mine. And then when the Jews eat the slav, their stomachs explode. It’s like God took us behind the garage and made us smoke the whole damn pack.
But now all that is behind us. We’re done acting like children, and Hashem is done acting like a dysfunctional parent that had us at way too young and age and doesn’t know what to do so He just hits us and hopes we shut up. I’ll tell you, in parshas Ki Savo, it sounds like God is downright exited.
“And Hashem has designated you today as a treasured people” (26:18), Moshe tells us. “This day you have become a people to Hashem, your God,” (27:9) and towards the end of the parsha Hashem gets particularly sentimental, or Moshe does anyway: “And Hashem didn’t give you a heart to know, eyes to see, or ears to hear until this day,” (28:3) which I understand to mean that we couldn’t really utilize our senses fully until we were able to serve Hashem fully with them.
We’re about to lose our leader, journey into a new land, Moshe is already hinting about choosing a king, and God is kvelling. Moshe is brimming with nachas, smiling down at us and telling us confidently that we will follow in God’s ways and become a light unto the nations. So we’re mature now. We can be act and be treated like adults.
The threats are over! What? Oy. I forgot about the ninety-eight curses God slapped in the middle of the parsha to boost morale. You know, the curses like, your women are going to eat their babies- afterbirth and all, that you will be covered in boils, your fields and flocks and vineyards will produce nothing and all the nations will look on in horrified disgust. Oh, and the kicker- my personal favorite. To paraphrase: “You’re gonna go back to Egypt and try to sell yourselves but no one’s gonna want you. You’re gonna wish you were slaves again!” Good one. How like a parent to rub our noses in that fact.
If God had wanted to really let me know what I was in for he should have said something like, “You will put two quarters in the meter, and yet when you emerge from the store there will be an orange ticket on your window. You will wait seven days for your new spectacles to be ready, but when you get them you will be satisfied not, for the prescription will be slightly off and you will have a headache.
All the lights will turn red for you, when you are late to class or work, yea, and the guy ahead of you will drive slow like molasses. If you hearken not unto my words, your rent will be high, but if you follow the principles which I have put forth for you, your friend will present you with a real metziah. Nice building, good location, no broker’s fee.”
In any case, guess what? I’m not gonna bitch about the ninety-eight curses. The things that God asked for impressed me as just and true (which is the point, I guess, of God saying them in the first place). If you notice the nature of the warnings God gives us on Har Eval, they are against devious and underhanded behavior. Don’t misguide the blind man. Don’t pervert judgment against the orphan and the widow. Don’t deride your parents. Don’t move your neighbor’s boundary in secret. Don’t take money to kill an innocent. Plus all the gross sexual don’ts.
They were really pretty gross. And what does God tell us to do? Give some of your profits to the poor, to the holy, to the orphans and widows. Enjoy the rest in purity, and celebrate the fact that God gave you all this stuff. Sounds fair enough to me, oh yes it do.