In the Jewish people’s long and arduous history, there have been few places on this earth we have not lived, languages we have not spoken and cultures we have not absorbed into our psyche.
The Jewish people’s survival over the past 2,000 years would be remarkable while residing upon their own small strip of land, but is all the more remarkable amid exile, rejection, disdain and horrific, sustained persecution.
After all this, our modern homecoming stands as one of the most staggering miracles of the many that have escorted us through our wanderings. Ki Tavo —literally, “when you arrive” — teaches us the meaning of such a homecoming. The Torah commands that we take of the land’s produce and bring it before God, saying, “I have come home”, not only as a declaration of thanks for the earth’s sustenance, but also in recognition of the fulfilment of God’s promise to return us to our own land.
Our survival for two millennia is indeed astonishing even as we were burned by the fires of the world.
Tides of time flow in powerful currents across the ages and, in Ki Tavo, Moses charges us to focus on the emerging patterns, in particular to focus on the extraordinary journey of the nation of Israel through history.
We stand today, the oldest outcast nation in the world, battered, beaten but also blessed and lifted by astounding and intimate divine grace. We stand tall as ever, committed to life in all its fullness and freedom.
Our remarkable history calls on us to receive our full identity with responsibility and pride. We must wear our crown proudly, speak our names with dignity and honour and joyfully teach our children our heritage and wisdom. As we sing our national anthem of tikvah, “hope” of 2,000 years, our hearts should connect with those of our forebears and say to them: “We have come home.”
Rabbi Joseph Dweck