08 Sep Rabbi Hillel Skolnik’s Torah Spark for Parashat Ki Tavo 5777 – Weekend of September 9, 2017
This Shabbat we read from Parashat Ki Tavo, as Moshe’s final speech to the people of Israel begins to wind down. In addition to the plethora of religious lessons that Moshe teaches the people, there is an interesting homiletics lesson that we can learn from the portion as well. Moshe, within Ki Tavo, tries different tactics for getting through to the Israelite people. At the beginning of the parasha, he tries talking the future and what life will be like when they enter the Promised Land. He then tries to sweet talk them a bit with words of blessing in the middle of the parasha. He includes a section called the tocheicha, or great rebuke, as Moshe offers an extremely stern warning of what will happen to the people of Israel. And finally, at the end of the parasha, he recalls the past and how God brought all of them out of Egypt. By reminding the people of their past and envisioning their future while recognizing that life’s experiences are filled both with times of blessing and times of curse Moshe is able to capture the imaginations of the people while tapping into their collective memory in the hopes that his words will be followed. It is just another impressive moment in what must have been a fantastic (if slightly long) speech.
Rabbi Hillel Skolnik