Drash on Parashat Ki Tavo 2019
Rabbi Adi Cohen
Temple David, Perth, Western Australia
Two main topics constitute Parashat Ki Tavo, a reminder of the ethical and the agricultural mitzvot and the re-covenant between the Israelites and God to be held at the valley between Mount Gerizim and Mount Eval after crossing the Jordan River.
“These shall stand upon Mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are passed over the Jordan: Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin; and these shall stand upon Mount Ebal for the curse: Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.”
Fifteen years ago during a cold winter, I was stationed with my Army unit on Mount Ebal. Life was an ongoing routine for three weeks, however the weight of the Biblical history of the place sent shivers in my body more than the cold did.
Since then I have traveled through Beit Horon, where Joshua fought the battles of God, visited Tzipori - one of the Talmudic villages in the Galilee, davened in several synagogues in Tzfat - the cradle of Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah and had a fantastic wine tour around Emek HaEla, where David fought Goliath.
The biblical stories are embedded in the land of Israel, in its vegetation, in the hills and the clouds, the mountains of Jerusalem and the wilderness of the Arava. Many of our UPJ congregations are leading various tours focusing on different aspect of Israel - spiritual, ecological, or cultural, highlighting the challenges and successes or the multicultural fabric of the israeli society.
As we reflect on the year that has passed and set our goals to the year to come I would like to encourage you to consider joining your congregation or another congregation's trip to Israel and add another dimension to your Jewish identity.