Torah Portion

Ki Tavo

כי תבוא

Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8
Isaiah 60:1–22

Sheger, Ashtoret and Ashtor – The Patron Gods of Transjordanian Shepherds

Sheger, Ashtoret and Ashtor – The Patron Gods of Transjordanian Shepherds

Deuteronomy uses unusual parallel terms “the shegar of your herd and the ashtorot of your flock” to describe the offspring of livestock. These are names of the ancient West Semitic fertility goddess known as Ashtoret or by her less familiar bi-name Sheger. Her consort is (sometimes) the god Ashtor. What do we know about these deities and what do they have to do with livestock?

Prof.
Aaron Demsky
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Joshua’s Altar on Mount Ebal: Israel’s Holy Site Before Shiloh

Joshua’s Altar on Mount Ebal: Israel’s Holy Site Before Shiloh

In the eighties, archaeologist Adam Zertal excavated the site of El-Burnat on Mt. Ebal, and uncovered an enormous ancient altar from the early twelfth-century B.C.E. This archaeological find sheds light on the account of Joshua’s altar at Mt. Ebal as well as the famous story of Jacob crossing his arms to bless Ephraim over Manasseh with the birthright.

Zvi Koenigsberg
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An Altar on Mt Ebal or Mt Gerizim: The Torah in the Sectarian Debate

An Altar on Mt Ebal or Mt Gerizim: The Torah in the Sectarian Debate

The textual remnants of a Second Temple religious polemic between Judeans and Samaritans about where God’s chosen mountain lies.

Dr.
Jonathan Ben-Dov
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Parents Eating their Children – The Torah's Curse and Its Undertones in Medieval Interpretation

Parents Eating their Children – The Torah's Curse and Its Undertones in Medieval Interpretation

Early rabbinic interpretation connected the curse of child eating (Lev 26:29; Deut 28:53-57) with the description of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in Lamentations (2:20 and 4:10) and the Roman destruction of the Second Temple. In the Middle Ages, however, Jewish commentators de-emphasize this connection. The reason for this may lie in the 12th c. development of Christian Bible commentary.

Dr.
Wendy Love Anderson
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Mount Gerizim and the Polemic Against the Samaritans

Mount Gerizim and the Polemic Against the Samaritans

Mount Gerizim appears in the Pentateuch as the mountain of blessing and plays a prominent role in Samaritan tradition, but the Jewish tradition sidelines this mountain and the Samaritans themselves in a polemic that began more than two and half thousand years ago.[1]

Dr.
Eyal Baruch
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Unspoken Hemorrhoids: Making the Torah Reading Polite

Unspoken Hemorrhoids: Making the Torah Reading Polite

Two places in the Bible describe God striking people with hemorrhoids (ophalim): the curses in Parashat Ki Tavo and the story of the Philistines’ capture of the ark in 1 Samuel 5-6. In the latter, the Philistines make golden statues of their afflicted buttocks to propitiate the Israelite deity. Traditional readings replace these crass references with the less offensive term techorim (abscesses).

Dr. Rabbi
Zev Farber
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Loving God Beyond the Way You Love Ashurbanipal

Loving God Beyond the Way You Love Ashurbanipal

Israel had a vassal treaty with Assyria which commanded them to love King Ashurbanipal, a "love" that brought with it legal requirements and penalty clause. Deuteronomy's command that Israel "love God" is best understood in this context, but what about God's love for Israel?

Dr.
Deena Grant
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Bikkurim: How the Rabbis Made a Mitzvah for Male Landowners More Inclusive

Bikkurim: How the Rabbis Made a Mitzvah for Male Landowners More Inclusive

Deuteronomy directs male landowners to bring the first fruits and recite a declaration. The Rabbis distinguish between the two parts of this commandment, including everyone in the bringing of the produce and excluding Levites, converts, and women only from the declarations. Eventually, even this exclusion largely falls by the wayside.

Rabbi
Yoseif Bloch
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A Torah-Prescribed Liturgy: The Declaration of the First Fruits

A Torah-Prescribed Liturgy: The Declaration of the First Fruits

A look at the Torah and Mishnah’s treatment of the mitzvah of bringing bikkurim (first fruits) to the Temple and its associated requirement to recite a historical confession through five prisms: phenomenological, historical, anthropological, feminist and liturgical.[1]

Prof. Rabbi
Dalia Marx
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The Covenant in Moab: Deuteronomy Without Horeb

The Covenant in Moab: Deuteronomy Without Horeb

Deuteronomy has Moses receiving a revelation at Horeb, but only teaching the Israelites its contents decades later in the Land of Moab. This two-step revelatory process, which is presented as two covenants (Deut 28:69), masks an earlier form of Deuteronomy that had no record of a Horeb revelation. 

Dr. Rabbi
David Frankel
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Arami Oved Avi: The Demonization of Laban

Arami Oved Avi: The Demonization of Laban

The rabbis translate the phrase ארמי אובד אבי in Deuteronomy 26:5 “an Aramean tried to destroy my father” and understand it as a reference to Laban, who they claim was worse than Pharaoh. But whereas the biblical Laban can be read either sympathetically or unsympathetically, he is hardly a Pharaoh-like villain, so why demonize him?

Naomi Graetz
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Torah Study Is Essential for Ensuring Observance

Torah Study Is Essential for Ensuring Observance

To uphold the covenant, Deuteronomy requires two forms of torah study: Learning the commandments and learning the reasons for keeping them. But what happens if even that fails?

Dr.
Baruch Alster
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In the Presence of God

In the Presence of God

The Difference between God’s “Name (שם)” and “Presence (כבוד)”

Dr.
Michael Carasik
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Comparing Curses

Comparing Curses

Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 are often lumped together, as the two great curses, but their careful comparison reveals some fundamental and surprising differences.

Prof.
Marc Zvi Brettler
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Ki Tavo

כי תבוא

Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8

...אֲרַמִּי אֹבֵד אָבִי וַיֵּרֶד מִצְרַיְמָה וַיָּגָר שָׁם בִּמְתֵי מְעָט וַיְהִי שָׁם לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל עָצוּם וָרָב׃

דברים כו:ה

My father was a fugitive Aramean. He went down to Egypt with meager numbers and sojourned there; but there he became a great and very populous nation.

Deut 26:5

Deuteronomy

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