Parasha: Ki Tavo (2023)

“It’s like a game of hide and seek.”
Rabbi Dovber of Mezrtich (1704–1772) explained that G-d tends to hide his presence from us, but then waits for us to search for him, when he makes his presence felt.

There is a concept in Jewish Philosophy called “Hashgachoa Protit”- Divine providence.
It means that G-d not only knows what is going on down here, but is engaged in supervising it as well.

When we have this perspective, it can be a deep source of serenity and confidence in a confusing and ever-changing world.

Rabbi Dovber encourages us to play this “divine game” to always look out for moments when G-d is trying to say “Hello,” and more importantly to notice, when G-d is trying to teach us a life lesson through a circumstance and occurrence.

This is hinted in the name of this week’s Parsha “Ki Tavo” – “When you enter.” The Parsha is inviting us to “enter” into our every experience and to be fully present, to be aware of the lessons to be learnt.

On a cold winter day, the holy Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement, travelled into the forest with his students. They came to a frozen lake and noticed two Russian peasants carving a cross into the ice to go fishing.

His students wondered what could they possibly learn, from witnessing a cross carved into the ice lake. This didn’t come to their attention for no reason. Surely there must be something to learn from this strange experience.

One of the students jumped with his eyes lit up and said “Aha! I got it! When we are cold and indifferent, and when our hearts and minds are ice cold, negative and distorted notions can take hold of our lives.”

The message from this odd occurrence, is to always stay warm and upbeat.

This is the 4th level of Teshuva to always look out for G-d’s messages to us. This is hinted by the 4th letter of “Teshuva” the letter Bet.

The letter “Bet” alludes to the verse בכל דרכיך דעהו – “In all your ways, know Him.”

There is always a lesson to be learnt from the different incidents, and moments in our day. Take a moment to think about them objectively, become more “observant” (pun intended) of these happenings, and you may find a divine, G-dly message tailored for you.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Zalman