Skip to content


TorahAnytimes Newsletter Ki Tavo

Parshat Ki Tavo

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Ki Tavo                                                                  Print Version
20th of Elul, 5781 | August 28, 2021

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Yitzchak Botton 
Our Mission to the World

The Midrash records a fascinating concept, and one in which is cause for surprise. The first word of the Ten Commandments, the word Anochi, which we translate as G-d speaking of Himself, is not a Hebrew word. It's an Egyptian word. Now, why would the first word of the Ten Commandments, which represents God's giving of the Torah to the Jewish people, begin with an Egyptian word? Great question. In fact, Hashem was waiting for thousands of years to give the Torah to His people who would follow it. It doesn’t make much sense that the epitome of this Torah, as defined by the Ten Commandments, would begin with not a word of Lashon Ha’Kodesh (Biblical Hebrew), but an Egyptian word.

The answer is that Hashem is not just G-d over the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. True, Hashem oversees the smallest nation in the world and looks after that one small dot on the map of the world, the Land of Israel. It is there where we as His people live and where the Divine presence dwells and emanates spirituality forward. However, while we as the Jewish nation are dubbed His children, our uniqueness as a nation is far broader. It is through us that His overarching vision for the world and humanity is realized. We are the catalyst and vehicle through which G-d’s Divine will is expressed and experienced for the world over and at large. Therefore, ultimately, our mission is to spread and shine Torah to even places like Egypt, to even those most perverted, corrupt and lost corners in this world. We are to serve as ambassadors of G-d’s will and values to humanity, and thereby bring the world to the stark realization that there is nothing but G-d’s existence and will which run this world and Whom we ought to submit ourselves to.

The intent is that all nations should serve Hashem. This does not mean that we will become one people, as in the melting pot theory that has been spoken about in relation to America. From a Jewish standpoint, each nation has a unique, distinctive purpose and mission which they are charged to accomplish. Above all, the Jewish people have a unique mission as G-d’s emissaries. Our purpose is to lead the nations to this recognition and way of life; we serve as the leading nation which guides and sees through G-d’s purpose and plan for this world.

In this sense, the first word of the Ten Commandments as an Egyptian word sends the timeless message that Hashem ultimately wants the entire world to recognize Him and serve Him, each in their own way, alongside the Jewish people who stand in the middle of this all, at the epicenter of this mission.

Rabbi Abraham Buzali
Don’t Bring the Guilt

When the Mir Yeshiva was situated in Shanghai during the war years, it was nothing less than a tense and tumultuous time for its students. Bombs flew overhead, with the fear of injury and worse looming near. Besides this, temperatures peaked, leaving everyone in sweltering conditions. That Yom Kippur, many of the students reportedly prayed with just a shirt, given the extreme temperatures. But with all this difficulty occurring for the Mir Yeshiva and its students, one particular incident rattled them all.

One of the students committed a sin with a non-Jewish woman and contracted a disease. He needed penicillin, but it was expensive. So the yeshiva students went to Rav Chatzkel Levenstein and said that he needed this penicillin. “What should we do with the boy?” they asked. Without asking any questions, Rav Chatzkel understood what happened. He took out money from his drawer and gave it to the man to help the boy.

Later that week on Shabbos, the students expected to hear Rav Chatzel provide strong words of reproof in the wake of such an incident amidst wartime. But nothing of the sort happened. People had figured that for sure he would talk about the sin that the boy did and say, “Why did you do such a thing? How can you do that? We're in the middle of war! There are bombs flying around us and we don't know if we're going to be alive tomorrow. And you decided to sin this way!” But Rav Chatzkel spoke about the Parsha and said nothing – not one word – about the boy. The next week too, nothing was said. And in fact, nothing was said for an entire year.

The following year, Rav Chatzkel was approached. “Rebbe,” some students said, “we don’t understand. A boy did a horrible thing during wartime and you did not mention a word about it, neither at the time of the incident nor afterwards!” Rav Chatzel calmly responded. “Giving Mussar is before this sin; after the sin, we don’t bring the guilt. We do teshuva and move forward.”
This is as true as can be. Of course, we are responsible for our actions. But excessive guilt that stymies us from picking ourselves up and progressing forward in life is not the way to go. Brush yourself off, do teshuva and keep moving.

Rabbi Yaakov Mizrahi
Year for a Year

One of the greatest Poskim we had in the previous generation was Rabbi Yisrael Yaakov Fisher zt”l. Many years ago, Rav Fisher’s father-in-law was very sick and the doctors were not hopeful of the prognosis. “The situation looks very desperate,” they said. With nowhere else to turn, Rav Fisher stood up and said, “Hashem, in the zechut (merit) of the 17 Dapim (pages) of Gemara I learned today, please give my father a refuah sheleimah.”

No one could believe how fast a report came back from the hospital that his father had a turn of events, and he began feeling drastically better.

B’zechut the Torah he had learned, he was able to give healing and life to his father. What is amazing is that exactly that day 17 years later, his father passed away. 17 dapim, 17 years. We have no idea what one daf is worth, what one word of Torah is worth.

Rabbi Joey Haber
The Golden Eggs

There was once a farmer who owned a goose. He would go outside and everyday it would lay eggs. One day, he goes outside and sees underneath the goose a golden egg. He couldn’t believe it. Immediately, he ran into town and exchanged the golden egg for money, with which he took and purchased a new ranch.

The next morning, though, it happened again. The farmer was incredulous. Was this a goose that laid golden eggs? Going through the same motions, he took the golden egg, exchanged it and took the money and purchased a new tractor. This carried on for yet a third day, from which he purchased another acre of land.

The next night the farmer laid awake all night. His thoughts took to him to realize, “If the goose is giving birth to another golden egg every day, it must be that there are around three golden eggs inside of the goose!” And so, the next morning, he woke up and went running to the goose, slaughtered it, and took out three golden eggs.

But everyone around couldn’t believe it. It was the most foolish of decisions. Yes, he got three golden eggs today, but he killed the goose that could have laid golden eggs for years!

This is the struggle of a person’s life. Do I nurture and enhance the goose so that it can lay eggs for decades, or do I slaughter it for what it can offer today and not realize what it can offer for the future? Do I focus on today’s pleasures of this world and forego nurturing and sustaining my spiritual life and my neshama as I could? Or do I pursue my spiritual potential and do whatever I can to build a life for eternity?

The choice is yours. Give birth to the future you want.

Rabbi Yaakov Harari
Your Spiritual Self

The Meshech Chochma says that there is no question that if a person is sinning, whether it is a positive commandment he is not doing or a negative commandment, he is obligated to stop his behavior based upon the commandments of the Torah itself.

Regardless of the mitzvah of teshuva, the Torah’s commandments require that we fulfill them. We need to repair our actions and behavior. What then is teshuva? Teshuva, he explains, is vidui, verbal confession. What does this mean?
Teshuva is an expression of our soul. Teshuva is an internal rectification of the spiritual aspects of ourselves that were damaged during the sin. The core of teshuva is your tendencies, your middos, the way you shape yourself internally as a human being. We take pleasure from what we should not indulge in with our life, and do not experience pleasure in the pursuits we should take pleasure from. When we sit in front of a Gemara and it’s a burden, we know that there’s something internally we can remedy so that something which is meant to be an extremely pleasurable endeavor actually is. The same emotions and tendencies that give us pleasure for physical activities would also give us pleasure in studying Torah.

So why don’t we feel the same pleasure? Because there is something that needs to be repaired. Our internal hard drive of spirituality needs a reset and restructuring so that we can feel that feeling of enjoyment and pleasure. It’s true, as things are now, we may not enjoy it. It does not feel ”geshmack,” as enjoyable as it should be. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be that way. To fix that, we have teshuva.

As the Nefesh Hachaim repeatedly puts it, tikkun ha’nefesh, a rectification of our soul, is what will bring us to re-experience our true, spiritual selves and come in touch with the pleasure that Torah truly is.

Rabbi Yaakov Rahimi
Busy Your Mind

The Rambam writes that one of the most common sins is that of improper, impure thoughts. How does a person avoid it? The Rambam writes that when a person’s mind his empty, there is room to have these thoughts. However, when a person’s mind is full, there is no room for the yetzer hara to enter in the first place.

A person needs to keep on learning and be busy with more acts of kindness, tefillah and mitzvos. Don’t give a second to the yetzer hara to get you. Your mind must be busy with Torah.
This is why there is a heavy emphasis on the study of Torah. It is the antidote and the greatest weapon for a person battling these areas of kedusha. Keep on learning and growing and that will steer you ahead to great things.

Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser
Tip the Scale

A woman was very ill and her husband, although aware of the ways of Rav Nacham of Breslov, was not exactly a follower of him. However, the husband’s friend was. Suggesting that he visit Rav Nachman, the friend said that it would be a straightforward process. He would write out a note, visit the Rebbe and explain what was going on and receive a beracha that his wife be fully healed.

“No, no,” said the husband, “it’s not my thing. Other people do it, but I don’t.” The man and the husband argued back and forth for days, as the wife’s condition continued to deteriorate. At this point, the man decided to listen to his friend. He went into Rav Nachamn and sat down in front of him. Before the man began saying a word, Rav Nachman said, “I need a coin.” “That’s the first thing the Rebbe asks from me?” the man thought to himself. “I know why I didn’t want to come here! He’s asking me for money already.” He reached into his pocket, took out a coin and gave it to the tzaddik.

Rav Nachman stuck his hands out, as if weighing a scale. Seconds later, he shook his head and said, “I need a different coin.” “One coin is not good enough,” the man murmured to himself. He put his hand back into his pocket and handed over a coin again. The tzaddik stuck his hands out a second time, his eyes closed. “Another coin he said.” The man, now emotionally revved up, gave Rav Nacham another coin!

By now, there was tension. The man couldn’t take it. Why did he come into this place? Rav Nacham is just asking him for coins, for money! I’m asking for blessings; not to give money away! Finally, the next time Rav Nachman asked, he took out all the money he had and threw it down. Rav Nachman picked up each one, until finally he came to one coin. He stuck his hands out, closing his eyes. He didn’t move. You could see the tears coming down from his eyes. He then opened them, and told the man that he could go home and his wife would have a refuah sheleimah. The man was baffled, but still headed on home.

When he returned near his home, he noticed that everyone was stirring a commotion right outside. “Hurry, hurry!” they said. “Come in! Your wife just came out of the coma; she is sitting up. Hurry!” The man ran and saw that she came to. He bent his ear down to listen to her and she said, “I was in the Olam Ha’emet in Heaven and before the Beit Din Shel Maaleh (Heavenly Court), and saw that they were weighing all my good deeds and sins.

They had a big scale in front and they began to weigh my mitzvot and aveirot. It seemed to be the aveirot were outweighing everything. At that moment, all of a sudden, some type of tzaddik, I don’t know who and I don’t know where he came from, ran in and put one coin in that pan with the mitzvos and it outweighed all the sins. The Heavenly Court then said, “L’chaim, you are going back to life.”

All of us have a second chance to put a coin on the side of mitzvos in our own life. Do it. You know what to do. Just do it.

Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein
All A Gift

How do we know that everything we have in life is from Hashem and is not ours to own? The answer is that Hashem can take it away from us at any second. There are a myriad of things, chas v’shalom, which can happen and change the trajectory of our life, drastically. A person can hear or see and something happens, and life changes. Life is a present and isn’t yours, because if it were yours, no one could take it away from you. And if it can be taken away from you, that means that it is not yours.

Everything in this world is a gift.

Rabbi Meir Simcha Sperling
In Your Pocket

You’d never think that you can have the yetzer hara in your pocket, but in today’s day and age, you literally can. However, you can avoid putting yourself in that position. That is completely in your control. Yes, of course, it is annoying and bothersome to have a filter on your phone and the like, but for your success as a Jew and a person, you need this, No one, no matter how great you are, is impervious to the snares of the yetzer hara. No one. Period. In fact, the greater you are, the greater your yetzer hara is (Sukkah 52a). So, if you are a well-respected individual who is known to hold high spiritual standards, then this is especially true for you.

A filter is something that you cannot bypass. If you can get through it. the filter is not useful. Don’t deceive yourself. Be honest with yourself.

If someone is in physically in jail but can get out, they are not for all intents and purposes in jail. True, they are there now, but there is nothing stopping them from leaving. Remember, you are doing this for yourself, for your benefit. Yes, you have self-control, but your yetzer hara knows your weak points and knows just how to work slowly and slyly to weaken and corrode your self-control until he pounces on you and you fall.

So prepare for battle. Take the necessary steps to get ready, and you’ll be set.

Picture of newsletter
100% free

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter

Timely Torah insights, stories, and anecdotes from your favorite TorahAnytime speakers, delivered straight to your inbox every week.

Your email is safe with us. We don't spam.