This week’s Torah portion, Ki Tavo, begins with the ceremony for bringing first fruits to the Temple. As part of that ceremony the person bringing the fruits recites a declaration which is essentially a history lesson, bringing us all the way from our forefathers to our arrival in Canaan. Why should this be necessary when presenting fruit? There are two answers to this question that I would like to provide. First, this is a reminder that nothing occurs in a vacuum. We are who we are only in context of everything that has come before us. Only by acknowledging and understanding the past can we succeed into the future. Second, it is a reminder that everything we are and everything we have is a gift from HaShem. Despite all of our hard work to produce this fruit, nothing happens without His blessing. Both of these lessons are valuable as we approach Rosh Hashana, a time when we evaluate where we are and where we are going. May we all keep our thoughts appropriately on the context of our past and our present as we chart our course toward the future of 5781. Wishing everyone a wonderful Shabbos.
Rabbi Evan B. Rubin