Parasha Inspiration – Ki Tavo

כִּ֣י תְכַלֶּ֞ה לַ֠עְשֵׂ֠ר אֶת־כָּל־מַעְשַׂ֧ר תְּבוּאָֽתְךָ֛ בַּשָּׁנָ֥ה הַשְּׁלִישִׁ֖ת שְׁנַ֣ת הַמַּֽעֲשֵׂ֑ר וְנָֽתַתָּ֣ה לַלֵּוִ֗י לַגֵּר֙ לַיָּת֣וֹם וְלָֽאַלְמָנָ֔ה וְאָֽכְל֥וּ בִשְׁעָרֶ֖יךָ וְשָׂבֵֽעוּ: וְאָֽמַרְתָּ֡ לִפְנֵי֩ יְהֹוָ֨ה אֱלֹהֶ֜יךָ בִּעַ֧רְתִּי הַקֹּ֣דֶשׁ מִן־הַבַּ֗יִת וְגַ֨ם נְתַתִּ֤יו לַלֵּוִי֙ וְלַגֵּר֙ לַיָּת֣וֹם וְלָֽאַלְמָנָ֔ה כְּכָל־מִצְוָֽתְךָ֖ אֲשֶׁ֣ר צִוִּיתָ֑נִי לֹֽא־עָבַ֥רְתִּי מִמִּצְו‍ֹתֶ֖יךָ וְלֹ֥א שָׁכָֽחְתִּי: לֹֽא־אָכַ֨לְתִּי בְאֹנִ֜י מִמֶּ֗נּוּ וְלֹֽא־בִעַ֤רְתִּי מִמֶּ֨נּוּ֙ בְּטָמֵ֔א וְלֹֽא־נָתַ֥תִּי מִמֶּ֖נּוּ לְמֵ֑ת שָׁמַ֗עְתִּי בְּקוֹל֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהָ֔י עָשִׂ֕יתִי כְּכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוִּיתָֽנִי:

When you have finished tithing all the tithes of your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give [them] to the Levite, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow, so that they can eat to satiety in your cities. Then you shall say before the Lord, your God, “I have removed the holy [portion] from the house, and I have also given it to the Levite, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow, according to all Your commandment that You commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten [them]. I did not eat any of it [second tithe] while in my mourning, nor did I consume any of it while unclean; neither did I use any of it for the dead. I obeyed the Lord, my God; I did according to all that You commanded me.

Devarim 26:12-14

This week’s Torah portion contains the commandment for tithing during the 3rd year, the year of the tithe. Torah discusses three different tithes, the first tithe, the second tithe, and the third tithe. In the first 2 years following the Shmitta, the first tithe is separated and then given to the Levites. The second tithe is separated but is not given. The second tithe is for our use when we travel to Jerusalem for Hashem’s Moadim. So, we keep the produce, or monies of, the second tithe, but they may only be spent in Jerusalem. The third year, the year of the tithe, is different.

In the year of the tithe, all the tithes are given to the Levites. Normally we would keep the second tithe until we were traveling to Jerusalem, but in the 3rd year, in lieu of the second tithe, the third tithe is given to the Levites. This third tithe is for the Levites, widows, and orphans. We see in verse 13 that when the tithing is accomplished in the 3rd year, we pledge to Hashem that we have removed all of the separated portion (holy portion) and we have given it to the Levites. If we were keeping the second tithe for traveling to Jerusalem, this could not be the case. But, in the year of the tithe, we do not hold back the second tithe for our own use during the Moadim. Instead, it becomes the third tithe, and it is given to the Levites along with the first tithe. When we do this in the 3rd year, we remove all of the separated (holy) portions in our household, and thus fulfill the vow in verse 13. Shabbat shalom.

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Rabbi Steven Bernstein

Steve was born on Lag B’Omer in Ann Arbor, MI but was raised in Gainesville, FL. The son of two University of Florida professors, he excelled in the sciences in school. In addition to his normal academic studies, he pursued his Jewish education studying with many Rabbis and professors of Judaic Studies from the University including visiting Rabbis such as Abraham Joshua Heschel and Shlomo Carlebach.