Parashat Ki Tavo (Bar Mitzvah), 2020

Shabbat Shalom,

I am glad all of you could join us today via Zoom. I would like to start by thanking my Family, Rabbi Dario, the Kol Shalom community, and all of you who have been a part of my Jewish upbringing.

The section of the Torah I studied, Ki Tavo, discusses the Bikurim. The Bikurim are the first fruits of the harvest. In ancient Israel, around 2000 years ago, these first fruits were offered to God in gratitude for the land that had been gifted to the Jews. This parsha also discusses the importance of respecting the land and the mitzvot to share part of the harvest with those in need – such as the homeless, the poor and those unable to have their own harvests.

This passage emphasizes that God has given land to us, as a heritage, and in return we are to give thanksgiving with the first fruits, the Bikurim.  We inherit the land, and therefore we must take care of it.  We must be thankful for the land that we have been given and we must protect it.

Nowadays, our land and our planet are in danger.  We are doing an unacceptable job of protecting it. Climate change is real.  Our land is becoming increasingly under attack from more destructive, devastating, and frequent natural disasters.  Record breaking temperatures and heat waves are becoming more common around the world.

I am concerned that the ecosystem will be forever changed if we do nothing. That the beauty of the outdoors will be diminished. That the people of future generations will inherit an earth damaged beyond repair. This is the inevitable outcome if we do not respect the gift God has given us.

Later on in the parsha, in the third aliyah, it says, “He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”  I believe this reference is discussing the abundance and greatness of the earth. My hope is that together we commit to protect this greatness, we strive to reduce our impact on the planet, and that the harvests, these Bikurim will exist for future generations.

During these strange times with COVID I have realized the importance of the natural world as a place to feel safer and that is why I urge all of us to protect the environment. Today’s parsha offered me the opportunity to discuss my love of the natural world and appreciate its beauty and it’s openness. I would like to believe that together we can be stewards of positive change and challenge ourselves by asking “What more can I do?”  I am grateful to share my thoughts on my parsha Ki Tavo and my belief that we must protect this land.

I thank you for your time and Shabbat Shalom.