Sign In Forgot Password

P'Ki Savo - Developing Sensitivity

09/07/2017 08:53:03 PM


Rabbi Shamir Buzzini

    Parashas Ki Savo begins with the Mitzvah of Bikkurim.  The Torah teaches us that when one brings the first fruits of his land to the Beis HaMikdash, he makes an oral declaration before all in the Temple courtyard.  The statement opens with remembering “Arami Oveid Avi,” which the ba’alei Hagadah explained to mean that Lavan, Yaakov Avinu’s father-in-law, wanted to attempt to uproot his son-in-law and progeny from the world.   Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai (Sotah 32b) stated that the inclusion of these words demonstrates the principle that one should make known his pain to the multitudes.  In this way, they will hear your pain and request from Hashem that He should have compassion on you that such should not happen to you again (see Maharsha).  The Rosh Yeshiva, zetzal, of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim pointed out that the words of the Gemara imply that the one bringing the first fruits must have personal pain over Yaakov Avinu’s experience; otherwise, his making it known to others would not elicit the desired sense of pity from them.  This is perplexing.  Where are these feelings of pain coming from over an event that occurred millennia before?


    Clearly, if we are commanded to make such a declaration, we are capable of being deeply in touch with our roots and having the awareness and sensitivity that we are ultimately an extension of our ancestors.  Furthermore, the experiences of our forefathers touch each of us in our own unique way, and their travails can draw forth from every Jew his own personal agony over them.  If it were merely a communal sense of pain and trauma, then expressing such in a communal setting in an individualist way would seem unjustified and wouldn’t elicit the community to ask of Hashem on his behalf.


    Due to the extent to which we, in our essence, are so inextricably linked to the experiences of our forefathers, it should be heart-wrenching to come to grips with the awesome tragedies that have befallen us.  If the bringer of first fruits agonizes over the fact that an Arami merely wanted to wipe out all of us, then the depth and intensity of his suffering over an attempt that actually met with a degree of success would be unreal.  This clearly begs the question; how do we go forward as healthy human beings in the context of such awesome pain?  Do we desensitize ourselves to that very nature that is demanded of us from Hashem in his Torah, or are we forced into trauma from which there is no escape?


    I believe that the true answer to this question lies in last week’s Haftarah.  “Berega katon azavtich uverachamim gedolim akab’tzeich.  Beshetzef ketzef histarti Ponai rega mimeich uvechesed olam richamtich amar go’aleich Hashem.”  “For a short moment I abandoned you, and in great compassion I will gather you in.  With a slight wrath I have hidden My face momentarily from you, and with eternal kindness I have expressed compassion to you, said your redeemer Hashem.”  It is not for us to ignore our plight but rather to realize that in the context of the eternity of our relationship with Hashem, it spans only a short moment.  Words cannot describe what this means; rather, it must be left to the vast heart of every Jew to embrace that reality and determine how it affects every aspect of his existence.

Tue, April 16 2024 8 Nisan 5784