This week Moses charges us to be true to our eternal marriage to G-D. This portion is called “Ki Tavo” or when you go (into the land) (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8).
This section covers the vows we as Torah observant people, the People of Israel, are to perform, our duties being “Shomer Torah”, or Observant to the Torah.
In the Scriptures themselves, you see (in the Hebrew) that (Deut. 27:15-26) looks like a marriage contract between Bnei Israel, and the Creator of the Universe.
These are the verses in our agreement to G-D to be HIS Spouse through all eternity.
|“15 Cursed be the man who makes any graven or molten image an abomination to the Lord, the handiwork of a craftsman and sets it up in secret! And all the people shall respond, saying, ‘Amen!’|
|16 Cursed be he who degrades his father and mother. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’|
|17 Cursed be he who moves back his neighbor’s landmark. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’|
|18 Cursed be he who misguides a blind person on the way. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’|
|19 Cursed be he who perverts the judgment of the stranger, the orphan, or the widow. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’|
|20 Cursed be he who lies with his father’s wife, thus uncovering the corner of his father’s garment. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’|
|21 Cursed be he who lies with any animal. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’|
|22 Cursed be he who lies with his sister, his father’s daughter or his mother’s daughter. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’|
|23 Cursed be he who lies with his mother in law. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’|
|24 Cursed be he who strikes his fellow in secret. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’|
|25Cursed be he who takes a bribe to put an innocent person to death. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’|
|26Cursed be he who does not uphold the words of this Torah, to fulfill them. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’” (JPS 1985)|
|These vows are a reiteration of the entire commandments of the Torah as our marriage contract or ‘Ketubah’ in Hebrew. During the reading of these verses in Synagogues, traditionally we stand and reaffirm these vows and repeat “AMEN”, as it is read by the leader or leining of the Torah by the designated reader.
These vows are followed by blessings and curses if we obey or reject our vows. We know that we are being properly observant because of very practical things.
That we will have plenty to eat (Deut. 28:3-6), our adversaries will fear us (Deut. 28:7), we will be successful in all we put our mind to do (Deut. 28:8-13). And if we do not observe those items above, the exact opposite will happen (Deuteronomy 28:14-67).
It is just like any marriage. If you love, honor and cherish one another, be faithful in all you do; communicate regularly, you will be blessed.
G-D some 200 years later, in the writings of the Prophet Hosea, reiterates this theme.
“16 Therefore, behold I will allure her and lead her into the desert, and I will speak comfortingly to her heart.
|17And I will give her her vineyards from there and the depth of trouble for a door of hope, and she shall dwell there as in the days of her youth, and as the day of her ascent from the land of Egypt.|
|18And it shall come to pass on that day, says the Lord, you shall call [Me] Ishi, and you shall no longer call Me Baali.|
|19And I will remove the names of the baalim from her mouth, and they shall no longer be mentioned by their name.|
|20And I will make a covenant for them on that day with the beasts of the field and with the fowl of the sky and the creeping things of the earth; and the bow, the sword, and war I will break off the earth, and I will let them lie down safely.|
|21And I will betroth you to Me forever, and I will betroth you to Me with righteousness and with justice and with loving-kindness and with mercy.|
|22And I will betroth you to Me with faith, and you shall know the Lord.|
|23And it shall come to pass on that day, [that] I will answer, says the Lord; I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth.|
|24And the earth shall answer the corn and the wine and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel.|
|25And I will sow her for Me in the land, and I will have compassion upon the unpitied one, and I will say to them that are not My people, “You are My people,” and they shall say, “[You are] my God.” (JPS 1985)|
There is a lesson we can learn from these verses and from the Hebrew Language. G-D’s intent was to have a people that would not be slaves to HIM, but to be co-Creators in the world we have broken.
The phrase in Hosea is “Baali/Baalim” It refers to Baal worship, an Idolatrous relationship with a false belief system. It also refers to the Hebrew word for “Master”; as in Master and Slave. Hosea continues with the statement that “No Longer will you call me “Baali”, but “Ishi” or Husband (Hosea 2:18). This Ketubah, is a true marriage.
Not trading one master for another, but a living, breathing, and in loving communication between the people that take hold of the Torah and the Creator of ALL. That is a relationship where there are equals. Each has their duties and each is separated by their limitations of one another. Yet, just like a marriage of Husband and wife, their success is one that understands their vows, and makes them work, not because they are bound to them, but that they grow with each other, talk with each other.
The miracle of all marriages is that we know each other in a way no other person knows you.
Do we fight? Yes.
Do we disagree how the toilet paper roller is placed? Yes.
Yet one is not the master of the other, and the other, is not their slave. They move, and create together.
Their success is found in their relationship, not in the vows alone.
Just as man and wife are equals in their lives together, so are we co-creators in our relationship with the Almighty.
The man may be physically stronger, and the wife the wise distributor of duties – yet, they work as a team.
So, it is with the relationship of G-D in our lives.
We make or break the world we live in by virtue of whether or not we are in aliment with our spouse.
The Messianic age is not one where we lie back and let G-D do the work.
It is a joint effort, with all hands at the wheel.
That is the success of every great marriage.
A marriage dedicated to open communication and love.
Amen to that!
Next Week: Rosh HaShannah: Happy Birthday Humanity!
Dir. Rel. Ed and History