Parashah 50: Ki Tavo (When you come)
26 “When you have come to the land Adonai your God is giving you as your inheritance, taken possession of it and settled there; 2 you are to take the firstfruits of all the crops the ground yields, which you will harvest from your land that Adonai your God is giving you, put them in a basket and go to the place where Adonai your God will choose to have his name live. 3 You will approach the cohen holding office at the time and say to him, ‘Today I declare to Adonai your God that I have come to the land Adonai swore to our ancestors that he would give us.’ 4 The cohen will take the basket from your hand and put it down in front of the altar of Adonai your God.
5 “Then, in the presence of Adonai your God, you are to say, ‘My ancestor was a nomad from Aram. He went down into Egypt few in number and stayed. There he became a great, strong, populous nation. 6 But the Egyptians treated us badly; they oppressed us and imposed harsh slavery on us. 7 So we cried out to Adonai, the God of our ancestors. Adonai heard us and saw our misery, toil and oppression; 8 and Adonai brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and a stretched-out arm, with great terror, and with signs and wonders. 9 Now he has brought us to this place and given us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 Therefore, as you see, I have now brought the firstfruits of the land which you, Adonai, have given me.’ You are then to put the basket down before Adonai your God, prostrate yourself before Adonai your God, 11 and take joy in all the good that Adonai your God has given you, your household, the Levi and the foreigner living with you.
(ii) 12 “After you have separated a tenth of the crops yielded in the third year, the year of separating a tenth, and have given it to the Levi, the foreigner, the orphan and the widow, so that they can have enough food to satisfy them while staying with you; 13 you are to say, in the presence of Adonai your God, ‘I have rid my house of the things set aside for God and given them to the Levi, the foreigner, the orphan and the widow, in keeping with every one of the mitzvot you gave me. I haven’t disobeyed any of your mitzvot or forgotten them. 14 I haven’t eaten any of this food when mourning, I haven’t put any of it aside when unclean, nor have I given any of it for the dead. I have listened to what Adonai my God has said, and I have done everything you ordered me to do. 15 Look out from your holy dwelling-place, from heaven; and bless your people Isra’el and the land you gave us, as you swore to our ancestors, a land flowing with milk and honey.’
(iii) 16 “Today Adonai your God orders you to obey these laws and rulings. Therefore, you are to observe and obey them with all your heart and all your being. 17 You are agreeing today that Adonai is your God and that you will follow his ways; observe his laws, mitzvot and rulings; and do what he says. 18 In turn Adonai is agreeing today that you are his own unique treasure, as he promised you; that you are to observe all his mitzvot; 19 and that he will raise you high above all the nations he has made, in praise, reputation and glory; and that, as he said, you will be a holy people for Adonai your God.”
27 (iv) Then Moshe and all the leaders of Isra’el gave orders to the people. They said, “Observe all the mitzvot I am giving you today. 2 When you cross the Yarden to the land Adonai your God is giving you, you are to set up large stones, put plaster on them, 3 and, after crossing over, write this Torah on them, every word — so that you can enter the land Adonai your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as Adonai, the God of your ancestors, promised you. 4 When you have crossed the Yarden, you are to set up these stones, as I am ordering you today, on Mount ‘Eival; and put plaster on them. 5 There you are to erect an altar to Adonai your God, an altar made of stones. You are not to use any iron tool on them, 6 but are to build the altar of Adonai your God of uncut stones; and you are to offer burnt offerings on it to Adonai your God. 7 Also you are to sacrifice peace offerings, eat there and be joyful in the presence of Adonai your God. 8 You are to write on the stones all the words of this Torah very clearly.”
9 Next Moshe and the cohanim, who are L’vi’im, spoke to all Isra’el. They said, “Be quiet; and listen, Isra’el! Today you have become the people of Adonai your God. 10 Therefore you are to listen to what Adonai your God says and obey his mitzvot and laws, which I am giving you today.”
(v) 11 That same day Moshe commissioned the people as follows: 12 “These are the ones who are to stand on Mount G’rizim and bless the people after you have crossed the Yarden: Shim‘on, Levi, Y’hudah, Yissakhar, Yosef and Binyamin; 13 while these are to stand on Mount ‘Eival for the curse: Re’uven, Gad, Asher, Z’vulun, Dan and Naftali. 14 The L’vi’im, speaking loudly, will proclaim to every man of Isra’el:
15 “‘A curse on anyone who makes a carved or metal image, something Adonai detests, the handiwork of a craftsman, and sets it up in secret!’ All the people are to respond by saying, ‘Amen!’
16 “‘A curse on anyone who dishonors his father or mother.’ All the people are to say, ‘Amen!’
17 “‘A curse on anyone who moves his neighbor’s boundary marker.’ All the people are to say, ‘Amen!’
18 “‘A curse on anyone who causes a blind person to lose his way on the road.’ All the people are to say, ‘Amen!’
19 “‘A curse on anyone who interferes with justice for the foreigner, orphan or widow.’ All the people are to say, ‘Amen!’
20 “‘A curse on anyone who has sexual relations with his father’s wife, because he has violated his father’s rights.’ All the people are to say, ‘Amen!’
21 “‘A curse on anyone who has sexual relations with any kind of animal.’ All the people are to say, ‘Amen!’
22 “‘A curse on anyone who has sexual relations with his sister, no matter whether she is the daughter of his father or of his mother.’ All the people are to say, ‘Amen!’
23 “‘A curse on anyone who has sexual relations with his mother-in-law.’ All the people are to say, ‘Amen!’
24 “‘A curse on anyone who secretly attacks a fellow member of the community.’ All the people are to say, ‘Amen!’
25 “‘A curse on anyone who accepts a bribe to kill an innocent person.’ All the people are to say, ‘Amen!’
26 “‘A curse on anyone who does not confirm the words of this Torah by putting them into practice.’ All the people are to say, ‘Amen!’
28 “If you listen closely to what Adonai your God says, observing and obeying all his mitzvot which I am giving you today, Adonai your God will raise you high above all the nations on earth; 2 and all the following blessings will be yours in abundance — if you will do what Adonai your God says:
3 “A blessing on you in the city, and a blessing on you in the countryside.
4 “A blessing on the fruit of your body, the fruit of your land and the fruit of your livestock — the young of your cattle and flocks.
5 “A blessing on your grain-basket and kneading-bowl.
6 “A blessing on you when you go out, and a blessing on you when you come in.
(vi) 7 “Adonai will cause your enemies attacking you to be defeated before you; they will advance on you one way and flee before you seven ways.
8 “Adonai will order a blessing to be with you in your barns and in everything you undertake; he will bless you in the land Adonai your God is giving you.
9 “Adonai will establish you as a people separated out for himself, as he has sworn to you — if you will observe the mitzvot of Adonai your God and follow his ways. 10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that Adonai’s name, his presence, is with you; so that they will be afraid of you.
11 “Adonai will give you great abundance of good things — of the fruit of your body, the fruit of your livestock and the fruit of your land in the land Adonai swore to your ancestors to give you. 12 Adonai will open for you his good treasure, the sky, to give your land its rain at the right seasons and to bless everything you undertake. You will lend to many nations and not borrow; 13 Adonai will make you the head and not the tail; and you will be only above, never below — if you will listen to, observe and obey the mitzvot of Adonai your God 14 and not turn away from any of the words I am ordering you today, neither to the right nor to the left, to follow after other gods and serve them.
15 “But if you refuse to pay attention to what Adonai your God says, and do not observe and obey all his mitzvot and regulations which I am giving you today, then all the following curses will be yours in abundance:
16 “A curse on you in the city, and a curse on you in the countryside.
17 “A curse on your grain-basket and kneading-bowl.
18 “A curse on the fruit of your body, the fruit of your land and the young of your cattle and flocks.
19 “A curse on you when you come in, and a curse on you when you go out.
20 “Adonai will send on you curses, disasters and frustration in everything you set out to do, until you are destroyed and quickly perish, because of your evil actions in abandoning me.
21 “Adonai will bring on you a plague that will stay with you until he has exterminated you from the land you are entering in order to take possession of it. 22 Adonai will strike you down with wasting diseases, fever, inflammation, fiery heat, drought, blasting winds and mildew; and they will pursue you until you perish.
23 “The sky over your head will be brass and the earth under you iron. 24 Adonai will turn the rain your land needs into powder and dust that will fall on you from the sky until you are destroyed.
25 “Adonai your God will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you will advance on them one way and flee before them seven. You will become an object of horror to every kingdom on earth. 26 Your carcasses will become food for all the birds in the air and the wild animals, and there will be no one to scare them away.
27 Adonai will strike you down with the boils that broke out on the Egyptians, tumors, skin lesions and itching, all incurable. 28 Adonai will strike you with insanity, blindness and utter confusion. 29 You will grope about at noon like a blind person groping in the dark, unable to find your way.
“You will be continually oppressed and robbed, and there will be no one to save you. 30 You will get engaged to a woman, but another man will marry her. You will build a house but not live in it. You will plant a vineyard but not use its fruit. 31 Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, but you won’t eat any of its meat. Your donkey will be taken away from you by force as you watch, and you won’t get it back. Your sheep will be given to your enemies, and there will be no one to help you. 32 Your sons and daughters will be handed over to another people; you will watch for them longingly all day but not see them; and there will be nothing you can do about it. 33 A nation unknown to you will eat the fruit of your land and labor. Yes, you will be continually oppressed and crushed, 34 till you go crazy from what your eyes have to see. 35 Adonai will strike you down in the knees and legs with painful and incurable boils; they will spread from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head. 36 Adonai will bring you and your king whom you have put over yourselves to a nation you have not known, neither you nor your ancestors; and there you will serve other gods made of wood and stone. 37 You will be so devastated as to become a proverb and a laughingstock among all the peoples to which Adonai will drive you.
38 “You will carry much seed out to the field but gather little in, because locusts will devour it. 39 You will plant vineyards and dress them but neither drink the wine nor gather the grapes, because worms will eat them. 40 You will have olive trees throughout your territory but not anoint yourself with the oil, because your olives will fall off unripe. 41 You will father sons and daughters, but they won’t belong to you, because they will go into captivity. 42 The bugs will inherit all your trees and the produce of your land.
43 “The foreigner living with you will rise higher and higher while you sink lower and lower. 44 He will lend to you, but you will not lend to him; he will be the head and you the tail.
45 “All these curses will come on you, pursuing you and overtaking you until you are destroyed, because you didn’t pay attention to what Adonai your God said, observing his mitzvot and regulations that he gave you. 46 These curses will be on you and your descendants as a sign and a wonder forever. 47 Because you didn’t serve Adonai your God with joy and gladness in your heart when you had such an abundance of everything; 48 Adonai will send your enemy against you; and you will serve him when you are hungry, thirsty, poorly clothed and lacking everything; he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he destroys you. 49 Yes, Adonai will bring against you a nation from far away that will swoop down on you from the end of the earth like a vulture, a nation whose language you don’t understand, 50 a nation grim in appearance, whose people neither respect the old nor pity the young. 51 They will devour the offspring of your livestock and the produce of your soil, until you have been destroyed. They will leave you without grain, wine, olive oil, or your young cattle and sheep — until they have caused you to perish. 52 They will besiege all your towns until your high, fortified walls, in which you trusted, collapse everywhere in your land, which Adonai your God gave you. 53 Then, because of the severity of the siege and distress that your enemies are inflicting on you, you will eat the offspring of your own body, the flesh of your own sons and daughters, whom Adonai your God has given you. 54 Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will be without pity for his brother, his beloved wife or his surviving children, 55 to the degree that he will refuse to share with any of them the flesh of his children whom he is eating; because if he did, he would have nothing left for himself — in the severity of the siege and distress your enemies are inflicting on you in all your towns. 56 The most delicate and sensitive woman among you, so sensitive and delicate that she wouldn’t think of touching the sole of her foot to the ground, will so begrudge her own beloved husband, son and daughter 57 that she will secretly eat the afterbirth that comes out of her and even her own children as she bears them — so desperately hungry will she be in the severity of the siege and distress your enemies are inflicting on you in your towns.
58 “If you will not observe and obey all the words of this Torah that are written in this book, so that you will fear this glorious and awesome name, Adonai your God; 59 then Adonai will strike down you and your descendants with extraordinary plagues and severe sicknesses that go on and on. 60 He will bring back upon you all the diseases the Egyptians had, which you were in dread of; and they will cling to you. 61 Not only that, but Adonai will bring upon you all the sicknesses and plagues that are not written in this book of the Torah — until you are destroyed. 62 You will be left few in number, whereas you were once as numerous as the stars in the sky — because you did not pay attention to the voice of Adonai your God.
63 “Thus it will come about that just as once Adonai took joy in seeking to do you good and increase your numbers, so now Adonai will take joy in causing you to perish and be destroyed, and you will be plucked off the land you are entering in order to take possession of it. 64 Adonai will scatter you among all peoples from one end of the earth to the other, and there you will serve other gods, made of wood and stone, which neither you nor your ancestors have known. 65 Among these nations you will not find repose, and there will be no rest for the sole of your foot; rather Adonai will give you there anguish of heart, dimness of eyes and apathy of spirit. 66 Your life will hang in doubt before you; you will be afraid night and day and have no assurance that you will stay alive. 67 In the morning you will say, ‘Oh, how I wish it were evening!’ and in the evening you will say, ‘Oh, how I wish it were morning!’ — because of the fear overwhelming your heart and the sights your eyes will see. 68 Finally, Adonai will bring you back in ships to Egypt, the place of which I said to you, ‘You will never ever see it again’; and there you will try to sell yourselves as slaves to your enemies, but no one will buy you.”
69 (29:1) These are the words of the covenant which Adonai ordered Moshe to make with the people of Isra’el in the land of Mo’av, in addition to the covenant which he made with them in Horev.
29 (vii) (2) Then Moshe summoned all Isra’el and said to them, “You saw everything Adonai did before your eyes in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his servants and to all his land; 2 (3) the great testings which you saw with your own eyes, and the signs and those great wonders. 3 (4) Nevertheless, to this day Adonai has not given you a heart to understand, eyes to see or ears to hear! 4 (5) I led you forty years in the desert. Neither the clothes on your body nor the shoes on your feet wore out. 5 (6) You didn’t eat bread, and you didn’t drink wine or other intoxicating liquor; this was so that you would know that ‘I am Adonai your God.’ (Maftir) 6 (7) When you arrived at this place, Sichon the king of Heshbon and ‘Og the king of Bashan advanced against us in battle, and we defeated them, 7 (8) took their land and gave it as an inheritance to the Re’uveni, the Gadi and the M’nashi. 8 (9) Therefore, observe the words of this covenant and obey them; so that you can make everything you do prosper.
Haftarah Ki Tavo: Yesha‘yahu (Isaiah) 60:1–22
B’rit Hadashah suggested readings for Parashah Ki Tavo: Mattityahu (Matthew) 13:1–23; Luke 21:1–4; Acts 28:17–31; Romans 11:1–15