Parashat Ki Tavo

Blessings from Strangers

Reaching out to interfaith families.

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Provided by the Jewish Outreach Institute, an organization dedicated to creating a more open and welcoming Judaism.

After 40 years of wandering, the Israelites have finally entered the land in this week's Torah portion, Ki Tavo. The Torah describes the land through its bounty of fruits, most aptly described as a land flowing with milk and honey. In Deuteronomy 26:10, the Israelites are directed to make an offering of the first fruits of the harvest as an expression of thanksgiving. Then they are encouraged to celebrate the blessings that they have been given, along with the blessings of Levites and the strangers in their midst.

jewish outreach instituteOnly when they have shared these blessings with others, including the stranger, can they be satisfied, as the text suggests in 26:11. There can be no satiation until they have done so and then they can appear before God, having accomplished what they were bidden to do.

These "strangers" from the Bible have appeared within our gates. In the postmodern world, they have come to us primarily as members of interfaith families who hail from other religious and ethnic backgrounds. To follow the directive of the text, we cannot be satisfied with whatever blessings we have been showered with until we have shared them with others. Interfaith families seem to be a good place to start.

Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky

Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky is executive director of the Jewish Outreach Institute and the author of numerous books about Jewish spirituality.