Ki Tavo – Deuteronomy 26:1 – 29:8 – The Torah portion (parashat ha shavuah) for Shabbat, Saturday, Sept. 13
Judaism is a religion of teleological history. The Jewish people have been on a collective journey, beginning with Exodus from Egypt, continuing through the present day, and moving toward a time in the future when the world will be redeemed and justice, mercy and equality will define human relations. Each of us in each generation is a link in that chain. This week’s Torah portion reminds us of our beginnings. “You shall then recite as follows before the Lord your God: ‘My father was a fugitive Aramean. He went down to Egypt with meager numbers and sojourned there; but there he became a great and very populous nation. The Egyptians dealt harshly with us and oppressed us; they imposed heavy labor upon us. We cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our plea and saw our plight, our misery, and our oppression. The Lord freed us from Egypt by a mighty hand, by an outstretched arm and awesome power, and by signs and portents. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.’” This is the Jewish “master story” in a nutshell. We were once enslaved. With God’s help we were redeemed and enjoyed the fruits of freedom. This is also our mission in life as Jews, to help bring the blessings of freedom and redemption to the world. In our generation, indeed in every generation, we are commanded to live and act in a way that all mankind can be redeemed. This is our burden and our blessing.