Sedra of the Week: Ki Tavo
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Sedra of the Week: Ki Tavo

Rabbi Daniel Friedman looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

As cinemas reopen around the country, the season’s blockbuster is slated
to be Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, an epic featuring time-bending that questions our views of past, present and future. It ties in with this week’s Sedra, which alludes to time travel. 

In Parshat Ki Tavo, we read the tochacha – the looming desolation when God hides His face. Our sages teach that within each of the curses, one may discover a hidden blessing.  

Take this verse: “Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, and not from it will you eat. Your donkey will be stolen from before you and not return to you. Your flocks will be given for your enemies and there won’t be for you a saviour.” (Deut. 28:31.)  

The Chid”a explains the secret of the hidden blessing. Having read the ‘verse,’ now ‘re-verse’ the reading: For you, a saviour. And there won’t be given for your enemies. Your flocks will return to you. And not from before you will your donkey be stolen. You will eat from it, and not before your eyes will your ox be slaughtered.

Many of the trials and tribulations of life seem unbearable as we go through them. But then the storm subsides, and we turn around and examine our experiences. With the benefit of hindsight, often we appreciate why Heaven subjected us to such challenges. At certain times, God was protecting us from worse circumstances. Other times, He placed us in trying situations to help us grow and become wiser; humbler; more mature, patient and empathetic beings.

Time appears to be linear. But in many cases, the ending of the story has already been written. Life now may feel impossible to endure. The key is to travel into the future and picture the best ending to the story, and work backwards, asking yourself how best to respond to the present perils.  

The ideal way to remain calm through the storm is to believe the story will end the same way, regardless of the stress you expend along the journey. May you successfully master the trait of time travel!

  • Rabbi Daniel Friedman serves Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue

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