Friday, September 19, 2008

Fresh for Shabbos: Follow Up on Ki Tavo Parsha Challenge

Once again, I am disheartened to receive no takers on my last Parsha Challenge.

This one should not be so difficult owing that I practically gave it away. Let's review the issue:

It appears that Moshe Rabbenu takes a time-out in the middle of his lengthy tirade of Kellalos to give us a commercial break - a message from the Sponsor about what we have been doing wrong. This commercial break seems to comprise three pasukim - Devarim 28:45, 46, and 47. In other words, pasuk 28:47 - that we have not served G-d with joy and good-heartedness - is a follow up of the 2 previous pasukim. I.e., it is part of the problem. Then, from pasuk 28:48 and on, we return to our regular programming and continue with the [final] solution.

In other words, pasuk 28:47 has very much to do with the 2 pasukim before it and very little to do with the pasukim that come after it.

This is how I understood the pasuk for over 3 decades. I asked my 2 study partners (both of them are older than I am), and that is how they understood the pasuk as well. For decades. This seems to be the simple way to see the pasuk and I think virtually everybody sees it that way.

I think it's a mistake.

I looked at the pasuk this year and saw somehing I never noticed before. Let's look at this pasuk again:

מז תחת אשר לא עבדת את יהוה אלהיך בשמחה ובטוב לבב מרב כל

Now lets look at the pasuk after it:

מח ועבדת את איביך
אשר ישלחנו יהוה בך ברעב ובצמא ובעירם ובחסר כל

Did you notice something? I think pasuk 28:47 has a lot more to do with the next pasuk - and a lot less to do with the previous pasukim - than we have thought all these years.

Pasuk 28:47 is not telling us why we are enduring these kellalos! That concept was wrapped up in the previous 2 pasukim - primarily pasuk 28:45 which says that we have not been observing the mitzvos.

Pasuk 28:47 is the beginning of the next round of Kellalos! It is the opening premise of pasuk 28:48 and it is saying this:

Your next Kellala is that in place of serving Hashem your G-d in an environment of joy and good-heartedness out of sheer abundance of all...

Or, in other words -

Instead of sitting around a Shabbos table in fancy clothes with 9 kids and 25 grandchildren, fressing on Chulent and kugel with your pantries overflowing with groceries and your wine-cellars stocked floor to ceiling and all your bills paid and singing zemiros and saying over vertlach, etc., etc., etc., (pasuk 28:47)...

...That you could have and should have done but you didn't; instead of all that...

You will instead be serving your enemies (and their gods) in foreign lands in an environment of hunger, and thirst, and nakedness out of a lack of all (pasuk 28:48)....

Now we see that this pasuk is not giving a new and perplexing reason for the Kellalos. It is a Kellala! And now we understand the conjoining "vav" at the beginning of pasuk 28:48.
I truly think that this is the rudimentary pshat in the pasuk.

תכלה שנה וקללותיה, תחל שנה וברכותיה


kurkevan said...

Very reasonable! But I think you could say it better -- not just as a statement of fact (i.e., instead of this you will get that), but as a cause-and-effect: "Since you did not serve Hashem your G-d despite being in an environment of joy and good-heartedness out of sheer abundance of all, you will therefore serve your enemies (and their gods) in foreign lands in an environment of hunger, and thirst, etc."

I actually have this deja-vu of having heard a similar interpretation once upon a time, but that just might be because it seems to fit so well.

Yechezkel said...

You are absolutely right. That is really what I meant to say but did not do it right. I made a small change to reflect it.

Thank you.Good shabbos.