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  • Andrew Roland

Parashat Ki Tavo 5777: The importance of Today

Today! It’s a strong Word. It is the answer of the doctor when you ask him when to stop smoking, or the answer from your bank when you ask when should you start paying your debts. There is a nice story that I learnt from my rabbi in Chile about this word. One rabbi goes up to Heaven, as you do, and speaks with Elijah the Prophet and says to him that he wants to meet the Messiah. Elijah says no problem, he is now in the gates of Rome asking for money. The rabbi flies to Rome and finds the Messiah and asks him the most important question: When are you coming? The Messiah says: “Hayom, Today”. The rabbi immediately flies back and starts telling everyone that the Messiah comes today and everyone gets very excited, start preparing, total madness. The day finishes, however and… nothing happens. The rabbi, in anger and embarrassment, flies back to Rome, searches and finds the Messiah and starts yelling at him. Why did he lie to him? how much embarrassment he caused him! The Messiah answers: “The problem is that you didn’t let me finish, I meant to say a verse: Hayom, im bekolo tishma’u. Today, if you hear His voice”. There is a verse in our Parashah that says “Today Hashem your God commands you to perform this laws and commandments and you will keep them and do them with all your heart and soul”. Only today, that day, God commanded our ancestors? Wasn’t the Torah given 40 years before in Sinai? And what about their future? What about their descendants, including us? There is something strange here! As if this was not enough, later in the Parashah Moshe gathers the people and reminds them of the all the things that happened in Egypt and later in the desert, but then says something strange again: “And God didn’t give you a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear until today”. Again the word: Today. What does Moses mean? Didn’t they value enough the opening of the Sea? They sang and danced afterwards! Didn’t they value the manna they received for 40 years? How can Moshe say something like that? Maybe Moshe tries to teach them and us the secret to be constantly inspired. Many of us experience a personal miracle, or have a vision that move us, but we won’t have a heart to know, or eyes to see or ears to hear if that experience is not happening inside us today. If that inspiration is not alive with us every day, as the first time, then it doesn’t have a real influence in us. With time, we become indifferent to both the memories of tragedies and of blessings that he have experienced. The promises, vows and commitments start to become blurry, together with that forgotten inspiration we had. Moshe said to us that even after we saw a wonderful event or we experienced a moment of deep inspiration, we won’t have a heart to know, eyes to see or ears to listen if we don’t add an important element: today. Many people live a Judaism of the past, based only in respect for tradition, but less concerned about the needs of today. We do things because they are tradition, not because they are important for us today. Masorti Judaism teaches us to gain inspiration and wisdom from the past, from tradition, but only in order to apply that inspiration and wisdom today. The past is a tool to respond to the challenges of today, Judaism is not a museum, it is a living house. May we be worthy of many moments of inspiration in life, many of them on this new year we are about to start. May we be able to relive them all the time as today, as if there were happening again. May our glorious past become a wonderful tool for us to live better lives and to deal with the challenges of today.

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