Parsht Ki Tavo begins with the offering of first fruits. Our ancestors were required to consecrate their first fruits in the Land of Israel to God by means of God’s representative, the Levites. This taught them two lessons: that the fruit and the trees on which they grow does not belong to them but rather to God and that they need to be grateful for having been given the privilege of entering the Land of Israel. I think about the latter often as I was privileged to go to Israel, to see firsthand Lod, Kibbutz Kfar Azza, Jerusalem and Sheikh Jarrah, while so many continue to be denied the opportunity to enter the Holy Land because of the spread of COVID.
What we learn from Ki Tavo is to have gratitude for our lot and all our privileges in life, rather than taking them for granted. We also learn that our material possessions are not ours to exploit but rather a gift on loan from the Holy One. If utilized properly, we will feel the effects of their blessings; if not, they might become a curse unto us. I hope that as we read about entering Israel and showing gratitude through the gift of the first fruits to the Almighty that we will always appreciate all that we have and that we shall give of our gifts to spread godliness in the world and make it a better place.