November 19, 2018

Rosner’s Torah-Talk: Parashat Ki Tavo with Rabbi David Fine

Our guest this week is Rabbi David Fine, leader of the Temple Israel congregation in Ridgewood, NJ. Rabbi Fine, who has been at Temple Israel since 2009, is also an adjunct professor at the Abraham Geiger College (a Liberal rabbinical seminary) at the University of Potsdam in Germany, where he teaches Jewish law. Prior to assuming the pulpit in Ridgewood, he served as rabbi of Shaarei Tikvah in Scarsdale, NY and before that, as assistant to the executive vice president and secretary of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards at the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of Conservative rabbis. Rabbi Fine completed his doctorate in modern European history at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and his rabbinical ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. His book Jewish Integration in the German Army in the First World War (De Gruyter, Berlin, 2012) is based on his doctoral dissertation.

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 will focus on the pasuk “Arami Oved Avi” (My father was a wandering Aramean) and on its role in forming a historically conscious people and national identity. 

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