Insights on Parshat Ki Savo
Tithing, First Fruits, and Blessings
The Parsha this week is Ki Savo, sometimes refered to as Ki Tavo and it is located in Devarim (Deutronomy 26:1).
Ki Tavo means, “When you go”. In the context of the parsha it means when you will go into the land. Verses 26:1 to 26:4 speaks about first fruits and that one needs to take the “the place that HaShem, your G-d, will choose to make His Name rest there.” In other words, it means that one is to take their first fruits to the temple. It is important to understand what is going on here. In the scripture there are tithes, and from tithes there a few types of tithes which are dependent on the cycle of the land, and there are first fruits and they are very different and not to be confused. First fruits mean just that, they are fruits and vegetables; they are anything that grows in such a manner. Specifically for Jews they are the seven know species that Israel is famous for in the Scripture. Then there are tithes and they relate to animals. For example, there would be a sheep and a rod and the sheep are directed to go underneath the rod. The tenth one that goes underneath the rod must be given as a tithe. Now what happens if there are only nine, then there is no tithe given. The scripture is very strict about this. Now what does that mean for the rest of us that do not have land, or livestock, to give as tithes or first fruits. Are we required to give ten percent of our money as a tithe? The answer is no. However, we are supposed to give charity and this is dependent on how much we make, and charity is from the heart. It is clear to understand that there are tithes, first fruits, charity and taxes and all of them are different.
Verse 26:5 to 26:15 we are to make a declaration on the tithes and on the first fruits. The declaration for the first fruits starts in verse 5 and goes to verse 10, and then we are to lay the fruit down and prostrate ourselves before HaShem. The confession for the tithes starts in verse 13 and continues to verse 15. In both versions we praise and thank HaShem for his greatness, we stress that we are low and that it is by HaShem that we were brought into the land flowing with milk and honey. The rest of the chapter goes on to say if we shall observe the commandment the all our heart and soul then we distinguish, that HaShem is our G-d. In other words we show forth who our G-d is by our actions that the world can see and then it becomes very evident what HaShem says in verse 18, “And HaShem has distinguished you today to be for Him a treasured people, as He spoke to you, and to observe all His commandments.
Chapter 27 is very interesting, there are two mounts and on one Mount Gerizim the people stood to represent the blessings, and on Mount Ebal they stood to represent the curses. The Levites made the children of Israel respond by a call and response where on one Mount they cried out what was accursed and on the other mount, the children of Israel said Amen. Then in Chapter 28, Moses recites for them what the blessings will be. What I can gather from this is that accursed things come about by the actions of man brought on by his lack of discipline to control himself, and blessing are the result of following the will of the Almighty. Rashi goes on to say that there were six tribes on Mount Ebal and six on Mount Gerizim and the Levites where in the middle and would say “Blessed…” and turn for the response on the other Mount to say Amen, and then the Levites would say “Accursed…” and turn for the response on the other side.
The parsha closes out by saying that it is HaShem that provides for us. Everything is in HaShems hands and we just need to trust for HaShem and wait for HaShem and do our part, which is to follow Torah and live as an example of faith.