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Ki tavo

"You shall take of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you will bring from your land" Deuteronomy 26:2

    For many people Judaism resembles TV in the 1950s. Judaism is black and white, dull, uninspiring, its rituals are old and we never quite reach spiritual satisfaction through them. Let me take you back to ancient Israel to the most colourful ritual that would have been in full swing this time of the year. The Torah commands that first fruits be brought to the Temple.
    The Mishnah gives a beautiful account of the ceremony. In the early morning people started their journey to Jerusalem. They walked in a procession, headed by an ox whose horns were wreathed with gold and silver, and whose head with olive branches. They were accompanied by musicians playing the flute.

    Rich people took the first fruits in baskets of silver and gold, while the poor carried them in wicker baskets which they gave to the priests together with the first fruits. At the outskirts of Jerusalem, the procession was met by the priests and the pilgrims were escorted amid the cheers of the populace to the Temple Mount. There the choir of the Levites welcomed them with the chanting. Out of respect for the Temple, the pilgrims had to stay in Jerusalem overnight before returning to their villages.

    Judaism has lost many vibrant and beautiful ceremonies. We have to look back to bring to the present the passion that existed in the past. Those who take Judaism seriously and look to transmit it to the next generation must discover how to move Judaism from black and white to technicolour. If your experience of Judaism is monotone and dull, then you have yet to experience authentic Judaism, so go on searching. The Torah is a fire, made of many colours.

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