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Presence and Presents!

By: Mrs. Bracha Krohn

When reading the opening psukim of this week’s parsha, Ki Tavo, one might start to feel confused: is this the haggadah we’re reading or parshat hashavua? The answer, of course, is both! This week’s parsha contains the text that we read as one of the focal points on Seder Night: "Arami oved avi."

By reading these psukim, the script that the Jew must say when he offers his first fruits in the Beit haMikdash, and expounding on them with the midrash, we tell the story of the Exodus every year, at the seder after "mah nishtana."

Why do we use these psukim on Seder Night and not the actual story as it unfolds in Sefer Shmot?

A simple answer is the practical one – these five psukim tell the story succinctly, clearly and with all the highlights: we ended up in Egypt, were oppressed, grew and became a great nation, were enslaved and tortured and ultimately saved by Hashem who brought us to Eretz Yisrael, a land flowing with milk and honey!  We don’t have that much time seder night – even with this short version, we are up until after midnight…

Another answer, however, helps us understand why we are reciting this story at the moment we bring the first fruits, the bikkurim.

The farmer bringing his bikkurim is feeling pretty good about himself: he had a successful harvest and now brings beautiful fruit to the kohanim. This mitzvah to recite chapter 26, verses 5-10 is in order to put him in his place and remind him that Hashem provided and always has! It is G-d who ensured this ripe harvest and continues to make it rain! These psukim remind us that the same G-d who took us out of mitzrayim and did those amazing miracles for our new nation is the same G-d who helps us daily with our little successes, like a good crop. We need to appreciate G-d’s presence (and presents!) in our life and this mandated script, as well as the reference to Yetziat Mitzrayim, helps us regain our humility and appreciation.

Why do we use this specific text at the Seder? Because, perhaps, as we sit around the table on pesach in our houses with our family, enjoying the freedom of a good life, we need to appreciate how we got here! By using the story that the person bringing bikkurim recites, we are learning the same lesson he learns: Hashem is the cause for our lives, safety, health, successes and riches. We can never be reminded of this too many times.

Shabbat Shalom, and may your awareness of G-d’s presence in your lives keep His presents coming!











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