CCAR Newsletter Jul-Aug 2013 - 5


(Amy Scheinerman)

There shall be no needy among you—since
the Eternal your God will bless you in the land
that the Eternal your God is giving you as a
hereditary portion.… If there is a needy person
among you, one of your kin in any of your
settlements in the land that the Lord your God
is giving you, do not harden your heart and shut
your hand against your needy kinsman. Rather,
you must open your hand and lend whatever is
sufficient for whatever he needs. (Deuteronomy


I have a Christian friend who loves the New
Testament verse “It is more blessed to give

than to receive” (Acts 20:35). But let’s be
honest: it’s easier to give than to receive. It can
be exceptionally difficult and painful to be in
need, especially when one is a rabbi and public
figure. But what happens when we are the one
in need, be it emotional, physical, or financial
need? Are we capable of reaching out when
the need requires more than rides, dinners,
babysitting, and the like? When the need is
deep inside us, do we know how to turn to
someone, and do we even have someone to
turn to?

(Joshua Minkin)

The concepts of justice and judgment are
central to Judaism. The High Holy Days revolve
around the theme of God as just and true
Judge. The Reform Movement has taken the
verse from our parashah, Tzedek, tzedek tirdof
(Deuteronomy 16:20) as its rallying cry
A fundamental requirement for justice is that
there be judges to determine wrongdoing and
administrators to punish offenders. We see
this in the opening words of our parashah,
You shall appoint judges and officials … [that]
shall govern the people with righteous justice
(Deuteronomy 16:18).

Ki Teitzei

However, due to partisan bickering in
Washington, over 10 percent of all federal
judgeships remain vacant. Appointments
are being held hostage by the minority party
through parliamentary tactics intended to delay
confirmation votes, sometimes more than a
year. Yet when confirmation votes are finally
allowed to occur, most judges are approved
by lopsided majorities, and sometimes even
unanimously. In the past, judicial nominees
have been rejected, but in such cases, votes
were taken expeditiously.
This has led to unconscionable delays in the
courts. People are languishing in prison waiting

for their appeals to be heard, contrary to the
Sixth Amendment. Pirkei Avot 5:8 equates
justice delayed with justice denied.
Our verse further demands that officials
be appointed to administer laws, as well
as enforce judicial decisions. Here the
confirmation process has been even slower.
There has been a deliberate attempt to achieve
through filibuster what was impossible to
achieve through the ballot box.
We are commanded, You shall not pervert
justice (Deuteronomy 16:19). We must
condemn this injustice that is being done in
our name.

(Janice Garfunkel)

Parshat Ki Teitzei includes quite a lot of very
practical advice for living. We should take our
cue from this for our own congregations.
Someone who lives in an area with many Jews
told me she goes to an AA meeting once each
month at a synagogue, and that is her primary
“synagogue attendance.” To my surprise, she
told me that approximately six hundred people
attend this meeting every month, attesting to
the deep and important need of so many of our
people that is met by this synagogue hosting

Ki Tavo

Torah here (and in many places) instructs us
to open our hands, hearts, and wallets to help
others. Talmud elaborates elegantly on K’tubot
67b: what he needs includes “even a horse
to ride upon and a slave to run before him.”
Gemara supplies principles and a wealth of
examples of tzedakah and chesed done right.
Many of our congregations have a chesed or
bikur cholim committee.

the monthly AA meetings.
Jews, like everyone else, have needs—
practical needs. To thrive, our congregations
should be addressing those needs. Do any
Jews have rebellious and disobedient children,
as mentioned in our parashah? Indeed, the
challenge of parenting well is a paramount
need that is very poorly supported in our
society, leaving room for synagogues to fill that
gap, to provide terrific and wise leadership and
camaraderie in the art of parenting.

Sometimes we seem to enjoy blaming the
people for their lack of participation. If we
can do an even better job of addressing their
needs, I think they are more likely to come in
greater numbers to our shuls. I believe that if
our focus is on filling the varied unmet needs
of our people, they will fill our buildings and will
see the relevance and value of Judaism.

(Michael Boyden)

Ki Tavo is a challenging parashah. It is full of
curses—in a world in which we seek blessings.
However, it contains important messages such
as: Cursed be the one who misleads the blind
(Deuteronomy 27:18). And blindness need not
only be a physical impediment.
Commenting on the verse, You shall not place
an obstacle before the blind (Leviticus19:14),

Midrash Sifra expounds: “If a person seeks
your advice, don’t tell him something that is
unfitting for him. Don’t tell him to go out at
dawn when thieves could rob him, or at noon
when he could become dehydrated. Don’t tell
him to sell his field and buy a donkey when you
intend to purchase it yourself.”
Just as blessings are real, so are curses.

Sometimes, however unpleasant it may be, we
need to be reminded of that.
The opening verses of our parashah are
also about remembering. My father was a
fugitive Aramean and went down to Egypt…
(Deuteronomy 26:5). And when do we need
to say those words? Precisely when we have
come into the land and settled down. Certainly
(Continued on page 6)



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR Newsletter Jul-Aug 2013

CCAR Newsletter Jul-Aug 2013 - 1
CCAR Newsletter Jul-Aug 2013 - 2
CCAR Newsletter Jul-Aug 2013 - 3
CCAR Newsletter Jul-Aug 2013 - 4
CCAR Newsletter Jul-Aug 2013 - 5
CCAR Newsletter Jul-Aug 2013 - 6
CCAR Newsletter Jul-Aug 2013 - 7
CCAR Newsletter Jul-Aug 2013 - 8
CCAR Newsletter Jul-Aug 2013 - 9
CCAR Newsletter Jul-Aug 2013 - 10
CCAR Newsletter Jul-Aug 2013 - 11
CCAR Newsletter Jul-Aug 2013 - 12