THOUGHT FOR PARSHAT KI TAVO 5779
BY RABBI CHAIM FACHLER
An event of major historical significance takes place in this week's Parsha – but it goes almost unnoticed. Seven weeks ago, we started the Book of Devarim with the words "These are the words that Moshe spoke to all Israel, on the other side of the Jordan ..."
So we know where in the Torah Moshe started the speech of his life. It takes up almost an entire Book of the 5 Books of the Chumash. But where does he finish?
Although he will still say things later, including his blessings to the individual Tribes in Parshat VeZot HaBracha, this particular monologue concludes in this week's Parsha at "Revi'i".
Now let's see on what theme Moshe finishes a sermon which takes us seven weeks to cover. "This day, HaShem commands you to perform these decrees and statutes ... with all your heart and with all your soul ... You have distinguished HaShem today to be a G-d for you ........to observe His commandments …”
Throughout the period spent in the wilderness Moshe admonishes us time and time again, for good reason. But now, as he prepares to say his last farewell to a People he has nurtured for 40 years, he gives everyone encouragement, hope and purpose.
Moshe is reminding us that there is a simple pact between us and HaShem, and between HaShem and us. Between HaShem and you and me. Between HaShem and our family, our friends and our people. And the way we prove our part of this unique and treasured pact is also simple. Keeping HaShem's commandments.
The word "commandment" is somewhat misleading. It is a poor translation of the word "Mitzvah," the root of which is "Tzevet" or "Tzavta". Team and teamwork. Moshe's parting advice to the Children of Israel is how to bond with HaShem, by utilising properly the very tools that HaShem Himself prescribed - the Mitzvot. It is a full partnership. HaShem doesn't need our Mitzvot. We do. They are for us. They make us a team. They bond us.
Which is why Moshe concludes by showing how the Mitzvot also set us above all the other nations. Most of all, they team us with HaShem. Moshe assures us: ‘HaShem has distinguished you today to be for Him a treasured people ... to observe His commandments and to make you supreme over all the nations ... and so you will be a holy people to HaShem …."
This is the often misunderstood power of the Mitzvot. Let's not miss the opportunity. It's Elul. And it's never too late.