Devarim (Deuteronomy) 26:1- 29:8
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Shaleeakh - Ki Tavo "When you come"
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 26:1- 29:8
The Torah describes the tithe and the offering differently. The offering was voluntary and the tithe was mandatory. This distinction between tithes and offerings is understandable. This is because tithes and the offerings were to be used for different purposes. The offering was used for special purposes. Therefore, the offering was a voluntary function. Shemot 35:45 states "Moses spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying, Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD". HaShem makes it clear to Moshe that he should only collect offerings from individuals who were willing of heart. Offerings were given because of a heart-felt conviction. This is even true if the offering is going to be sacrificed on the altar. Even the complete burnt offering was a voluntary sacrifice. Vayikra 1:3 which states "If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD." The burnt offering was not acceptable to HaShem unless it was offered voluntarily.
In contrast the tithe is mandatory. According to the Torah the tithe was used to support the continuing ministry. For example, the tithe of the tenth was given as upkeep for the priesthood. Bamidbar 18:24 states "But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance." Without tithes the Levitical priesthood could not have functioned. However, the tithe was not only used for the Levitical priesthood. The tithe was also given to Melchizedek king of Salem the priest. B'resheet 14:18-20 states "Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered your enemies into your hand. And he gave him tithes of all." Clearly Avraham understood the importance of giving his tithe to HaShem's priest. The primary emphasis in Ki Tavo is how important tithing is for the survival of the priesthood and the continuation of HaShem's ministry to the Children of Yisrael.
When the Children of Yisrael entered the Promised Land, HaShem required everyone to take the first of the produce to the Levities. Devarim 26:1-3 states "it shall be, when you come into the land which the LORD thy God gave you for an inheritance, and possesses it, and dwell therein; that thou shall take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shall bring of thy land that the LORD thy God gives you, and shall put it in a basket, and shall go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name there. You shall go unto the priest that shall be in those days, and say unto him, I profess this day unto the LORD thy God, that I am come unto the country which the LORD swore unto our fathers for to give us." This giving of the first-fruits accomplished two purposes. This tithe helped the Levities get established in their new home, and reminded the Children of Yisrael that they had reached the land HaShem had promised to their forefathers. In fact, because this tithe was the fulfillment of the promises of HaShem, it was considered Holy. Vayikra 27:30 states "all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD'S: it is holy unto the LORD." HaShem also wanted the Children of Yisrael to remember the promises He made to the forefathers. Remembering the promise made to the forefathers was a confirmation that the promises had been fulfilled. Devarim 26:3 states "thou shalt go unto the priest that shall be in those days, and say unto him, I profess this day unto the LORD thy God, that I am come unto the country which the LORD sware unto our fathers for to give us." The first-fruit tithe was an important reminder of how HaShem delivered the Children of Yisrael based on His promise. After bringing the tithe to the priests and after remembering the deliverance from Egypt, HaShem allowed the entire camp to use the tithe to rejoice. Devarim 26:11 states "you shall rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given you, and your household, you, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you." This tithe was equally distributed so that everyone from the Levite to the stranger was able to rejoice in the fulfillment of HaShem's promises.
The second tithe Ki Tavo describes is the tithe of the increase in the third year. Devarim 26:12-13 states "When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of your increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the LeviteLevite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them:" The tithe of the increase of the third year is also mandatory. However, this tithe is based on the increase that HaShem provides. Therefore, the tithe is proportional to the number of blessings that an individual received. If an individual's crops, livestock, or other means of support fail to increase, the individual does not have a tithe to give. The tithe of the increase is also unique. This tithe is only collected every third year. HaShem also commanded that this third year tithe be specifically set aside for the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow. This tithe was set aside for the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow, because they did not own land. The Levite had no inherited land. The stranger was not promised an inheritance in the land. The fatherless was not an heir to the land promised to the tribes. The widow was no longer covered by her husband's holdings. This group of people was unable to provide an increase from their holdings. However, HaShem wanted everyone to share in his bountiful blessings. Therefore, the tithe of increase was used to support those who were not blessed by owning an inheritance in the land.
In the Torah, offerings and tithes are considered differently. This is because HaShem created tithes and offerings for different purposes. The two primary differences are that the offering is voluntary and the tithe is mandatory. Offerings were voluntary because they were to be given with a heart-felt conviction. Tithes were mandatory. This is because despite whatever happens HaShem's promises will be fulfilled and He will have compassion on those individuals who cannot provide for themselves. Therefore, tithes were mandatory. Two of the tithes mentioned in Ki Tavo are the tithe of first-fruits and the tithe of the increase. The tithe of the first-fruits was used as a reminder that HaShem fulfills His promises. The tithe of the increase is used share HaShem's blessings with individuals who do not have the means to provide their own increase. Through these two tithes all Yisrael was able to partake of the blessings that HaShem provided. Clearly HaShem wants to remind His people that despite the circumstances He fulfills His promises and provides for those who are unable to provide for themselves.
By Rabbi Yaakov benYosef ABOUT-Torah.org© 2010 About Torah