Below is a collection of Parashat Ki Tavo resources created by The Lookstein Center staff or contributed to the site by Jewish educators.

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Question #1: Parashat Ki Tavo begins with the mitzvah of Bikkurim, the first fruits. When a farmer harvests his fields and fruit trees, he is commanded to bring the first fruits to the priest in the Temple. Every farmer would say the same declaration. Each one would begin with the story of the Jews as slaves in Egypt and God taking us out of Egypt and bringing us to the land of milk and honey. Why would you have to tell the story of liberation from slavery in Egypt when you’re bringing your Bikkurim hundreds of years after that happened? Is it important to know your history and have to tell the story? Why or why not?

Look inside the text (Devarim 26: 5-10),

וְעָנִיתָ וְאָמַרְתָּ לִפְנֵי ה’ אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲרַמִּי אֹבֵד אָבִי וַיֵּרֶד מִצְרַיְמָה וַיָּגָר שָׁם בִּמְתֵי מְעָט וַיְהִי שָׁם לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל עָצוּם וָרָב

וַיָּרֵעוּ אֹתָנוּ הַמִּצְרִים וַיְעַנּוּנוּ וַיִּתְּנוּ עָלֵינוּ עֲבֹדָה קָשָׁה

וַנִּצְעַק אֶל ה’ אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתֵינוּ וַיִּשְׁמַע יְהוָֹה אֶת קֹלֵנוּ וַיַּרְא אֶת עָנְיֵנוּ וְאֶת עֲמָלֵנוּ וְאֶת לַחֲצֵנוּ

וַיּוֹצִאֵנוּ יְהוָֹה מִמִּצְרַיִם בְּיָד חֲזָקָה וּבִזְרֹעַ נְטוּיָה וּבְמֹרָא גָּדֹל וּבְאֹתוֹת וּבְמֹפְתִים

וַיְבִאֵנוּ אֶל הַמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה וַיִּתֶּן לָנוּ אֶת הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת אֶרֶץ זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבָשׁ

וְעַתָּה הִנֵּה הֵבֵאתִי אֶת רֵאשִׁית פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר נָתַתָּה לִּי יְהוָֹה

You should then recite as follows before God: “My father was a fugitive Aramean. He went down to Egypt with meager numbers and sojourned there; but there he became a great and very populous nation. The Egyptians dealt harshly with us and oppressed us; they imposed heavy labor upon us. We cried to God of our fathers, and God heard our plea and saw our plight, our misery, and our oppression. God freed us from Egypt by a mighty hand, by an outstretched arm and awesome power, and by signs and miracles. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Wherefore I now bring the first fruits of the soil which You, God, have given me.” You shall leave it before God and bow low before God.

Question #2: Do you have grandparents or cousins who live in a different city? What is a more memorable experience -visiting together and seeing each other or just talking on the phone or computer? Why? In the Torah we read how important experiences were sometimes seen, sometimes heard, and sometimes both seen and heard. Our experience as slaves in Egypt and our redemption were seen (and felt) by the nation. Therefore, it is especially remembered. Why would this be so important for the people?

Look inside the text (Devarim 29:1),  

 וַיִּקְרָא משֶׁה אֶל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם

 ‘אַתֶּם רְאִיתֶם אֵת כָּל אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה ה 

לְעֵינֵיכֶם בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לְפַרְעֹה וּלְכָל עֲבָדָיו וּלְכָל אַרְצו

Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: You have seen all that God did before your very eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his courtiers and to his whole country

Question #3: Moses instructs Israel that upon crossing the Jordan they set up stone monuments to commemorate the crossing. Do family heirlooms have meaning without the stories attached to them? How much of our lives should be rooted in the past as opposed to creating new experiences in the present or preparing for the future?

Question #4: When bringing the first fruits to the Temple, we are instructed to retell our history dating back to even before we were slaves in Egypt. While our past is important for understanding who we are, we need to create our identities and move forward, living in the present and striving for the future. For some people, the past is a huge burden, even when that past is a glorious one. Just think of members of royal families who needed to break away from the traditions which constrained them. How can we embrace our past without it strangling us?