Rabbi Steven Pik-Nathan for Jewish Reconstructionist Communities
This week's parasha, Ki Tavo, includes within it a description of the intricate ritual the people were to engage in once settled in the Land of Israel. Moses commands them to place in a basket the first fruits of their harvest and to present them to the priests at the Temple. While doing so they are to recite a formula recalling they were slaves in Egypt, liberated by God, and given the land whose first fruits they now enjoy. They are also to set aside a tenth part of their yield for the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and they are to keep all the commandments given to them.
This ritual gets described in even great detail in the Mishnah (completed around 200 CE) and includes a description of the people being led up the mountain to the Temple by a dancing flutist and an ox adorned with gold and being welcomed to the Temple by a chorus of Levites. Clearly this was a major event in the lives of our ancestors!
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