Our guest this week is Rabbi Michael Ragozin, leader of the Shirat Hayam congregation in Swampscott, MA. Before coming to Shirat Hayam, Rabbi Ragozin led Congregation Sha’are Shalom in Leesburg, Virginia for six years. Outside of the congregation in VA, he was an active participant in Loudoun Interfaith BRIDGES, a board member of Hillel at George Mason University, and an On-Call Chaplain for Loudoun Hospital. Prior to becoming a rabbi, Rabbi Ragozin was a Teach for America corps member (teaching algebra in Baltimore, Maryland), worked as a technology consultant in Seattle, Washington, and was the Development Manager at the Seattle Jewish Film Festival.
This week’s Torah portion — Parashat Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8) — begins with Moses instructing the people of Israel to bring the first fruit they reap in the holy land to the Holy Temple in gratitude to God. The portion continues to state the laws concerning tithes given to the Levites and to the poor. Moses then gives the children of Israel instructions on the blessings and curses they must say at Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal (the “Mount of the Blessing” and the “Mount of the Curse”). At the end of the portion, Moses gives lists of good and bad things that will happen to the people of Israel if they follow or stray from the Torah. Our discussion focuses on meaning behind the ritual offerings given by the people of Israel to the community and on what we could learn from this today.
Our past discussions of Ki Tavo:
Rabbi Paul Lewin on the confession of the farmer when he presents the first fruit to the Holy Temple and on the message of historic memory.
Rabbi Serge Lippe on the immigrant experience and professing gratitude
Rabbi Hayim Herring on the order of the curses mentioned in the parasha