Support The Karen Berg Scholarship Fund. Learn More
The portion Ki Tavo talks about bikkurim, the first fruit. Moses tells the Israelites to give thanks to the Creator by going to the Temple in Jerusalem and offering the first fruits of the season. And it says in the Midrash that as Moses is receiving the revelation from the Creator to tell the Israelites, when they have fruit, to bring it to the Temple, he saw that the Temple was going to be destroyed, and that, as such, there would come a time when the physical action of bringing the first fruit to the Temple was not going to exist anymore. So, he wanted to find a replacement for it; he said, “I will replace it with prayer, the three daily connections to the Light of the Creator.”
There was a great kabbalist named the Kotzker Rebbe, who always reminds me of my father, Rav Berg, because he was a great teacher, a tremendously spiritually elevated person, but during the last years of his life something happened and he was not able to teach in the same way. So, this teacher shares a powerful secret. He says that Moses receives this message from the Creator to tell the Israelites to go to the Land of Israel, and when they have fresh fruit, to bring it to the Temple. And then he says about Moses that he was the type of person who never accepted things that weren't real.
What does that mean? How do we know if something is real? Rav Ashlag quotes a verse, which I think about often. He says, “The words of truth will last forever. Things that have falsehood attached to them, things that are not true, things that are not pure, can't last.” This is the way Moses lived, and the way, hopefully, we'll start to live or push ourselves to live in a stronger way.
Moses listened to the Creator and said, “You're telling me this concept of the bikkurim, the Light within the first fruit, is something true. Will it last forever?” The Creator tells him that it will last for a few hundred years and then stop. Moses knows there must be something deeper here, because something true never stops; clearly, it's not about the action, because the action itself can only be the shell.
So, what is the deeper secret? Moses says that the pure, true, and never ending secret that is within the bikkurim could be transferred to prayer, because an individual anywhere in the world can stop and connect to the Light of the Creator. That's true. How do we know it's true? Because it's there forever. There will never be a time in the history of humanity when an individual cannot stop, no matter where they are in the world, and connect to the Light of the Creator.
Truth means it lasts forever. But how do we connect to it? It is a very practical and important tool. We have to ask ourselves, “Am I living truth? Am I focusing my energies, my words, and my thoughts on things that last forever? Or am I involved in spending so much time and effort on things that don't, and can't, last forever?”
How many times in our thoughts and actions are we involved in things that we know, if we stopped for one second to think about, are not going to be around in 20 years? Is this issue, this problem, this fear, or this doubt going to be here in 50 years? If it's not, and we're spending so much time on it, we're not living truth. How much of our lives, words, thoughts, or actions are focused around things that have at least the potential to last forever? The fact that someone said something bad about us, and now we’re upset, is not going to last forever. The fact that something happened and we know in 20 years it's not even going to be a memory is not going to last forever. And if we invest our time, effort, words, and thoughts in the realm of falsehood, for lack of a better word, then that’s what we are attached to.
Therefore, we have to ask ourselves how much truth we are living. When we’re sharing with somebody, that Light will last forever. When we truly love somebody, that love will last forever. When we're connected to the Light of the Creator, that Light will last forever. But, how much of our energies are actually focused and directed in that way?
The greatest secret to connect to the Light that is perfect, to the Light that does not come with challenges, is to live more and more truth. When the thoughts come and the doubts come and the fears come, ask yourself: is this something that's going to last forever? If the answer is yes, put as much energy as you want into it. If not, don't you want the perfect Light? Don't you want blessings that come without challenges, that can only be connected to, and received through, living truth, through putting as much time, effort, energy, words, and thoughts around what can potentially last forever?
If the answer is yes, then on Shabbat Ki Tavo, one of the greatest gifts that we want to receive is to use truth and assess our day, our month, and our life. How much of our energy, thoughts, words, and actions are being invested in truth, are being invested in things that can last forever? Whatever does not or cannot last forever are falsehoods. This does not mean that at times we don’t have to invest in falsehood, but not too much, not in silly ways. And on Shabbat Ki Tavo, we can ask to live more truth, and to have the understanding and the consciousness to invest our energies in things that can last. By doing so, we connect to blessings that last forever. We connect to Light that comes without challenges.