Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Service with a Smile...Or Else! : Parsha Challenge - Parshat Ki Tavo

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

This week's Parsha features Moshe Rabbenu's version of the Tochacha. And it is a doozey! 98 Kellalos!!! What a list!

I sure don't want to be there when (ר"ל) they come around (I don't like Ike)!

Smack in the middle of the pack, Moshe takes a time out from all the Kellalos to remind us what transgressions they are due to. I am going to quote a sequence of 4 pasukim (Devarim 28:45-48):

מה ובאו עליך כל הקללות האלה ורדפוך והשיגוך עד השמדך כי לא שמעת בקול יהוה אלהיך לשמר מצותיו וחקתיו אשר צוך
מו והיו בך לאות ולמופת ובזרעך עד עולם
מז תחת אשר לא עבדת את יהוה אלהיך בשמחה ובטוב לבב מרב כל
מח ועבדת את איביך אשר ישלחנו יהוה בך ברעב ובצמא ובעירם ובחסר כל ונתן על ברזל על צוארך עד השמידו אתך

Okay, here is what it looks like it's saying (and this is how I think most people see the sequence of the pasukim):

Pasuk 45 is repeating to us what this chapter in Chumash is about, "And all these curses will come upon you and pursue you and reach you until they destroy you because you did not hearken to the voice of Hashem your G-d to keep His mitzvos and statutes that He commanded you."

Sounds like a fair reason for a whipping.

Now comes pasuk 46, "And they shall be for you for a sign and a wonder and to your children for all time."

Okay. It is going to be something that we won't be able to forget for quite some time.

Now comes pasuk 47, "In place of this that you did not serve Hashem your G-d with joy and in a good-hearted manner from an abundance of all."

Seems to be summing it all up.

So now, we had a break in the action of 3 pasukim - 45, 46, and 47 - in which the "court clerk" rereads to us the "charge sheet." But something doesn't look right. Let's take another look at pasuk 47:

In place of this that you did not serve Hashem your G-d with joy and in a good-hearted manner from an abundance of all.

Hold on! Stop right there. You mean that we did indeed serve G-d, only it wasn't with the greatest enthusiasm and that's why we get this tremendous unforgettable Holocaust? Just because we didn't serve with a smile? All this suffering and agony and death and destruction and exile? Because we didn't serve with enthusiasm?

Isn't that a bit over the top?

And, besides, didn't Moshe tell us only two pasukim back that we weren't doing the mitzvos? So don't I already know why this is happening? Why, only 2 pasukim after being convicted of total insubordination are we standing trial again on lesser charges?

Finally, Moshe is done and now pasuk 48 continues with the Kellalos as if nothing interrupted it from the last Kellala, "And you shall serve your enemies..." With the conjoining "vav" - "And you will serve..."

What is the deal with this mysterious pasuk 47?

This question has bothered countless commentaries and has bothered me for decades. Until, all of a sudden, I noticed something. I am not sure most of us are reading these pasukim right.

What do you think?

We'll discuss it in a day or two, IY"H.

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