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 In this week’s parsha, all of Jewish history is reflected in the two relatively short scenarios that the Torah describes for us. There is the opening section of the parsha – the promise that the Jewish people will come into the Land of Israel, settle there, develop the country, build the Temple and express their gratitude to God for the blessings that He has bestowed upon them. They will harvest bountiful crops and commemorate these achievements by bringing the first fruits of their labor as a thanksgiving offering to the Temple and the priests of the time. They will then recite a short statement of Jewish history, a synopsis of the events that have occurred to them from the time of the patriarchs until their own time.

The Torah promises blessings and serenity to the people of Israel but the Torah does not minimize the toil and travail that led to the moment of these offerings in the Temple. However, it does convey a sense of satisfaction, achievement, gratitude and appreciation for the accomplishments of the Jewish people, individually and nationally, regarding the Land of Israel and its bounty.
It is a spirit of wondrous gratitude that marks the accomplishments of the individual farmer and of the people generally in settling and developing the Land of Israel. There is little room for hubris and self-aggrandizement in the text of this offering in the Temple. Rather, it highlights the relationship between God, the Land and people of Israel. That is one scenario that is outlined for us in this week's parsha.
The second situation is a much more somber and even frightening one. It describes the events, travail and persecution that will visit the Jewish people over the long millennia of its exile from its land. In vivid detail, the Torah describes the horrors, defeats and destruction that the Exile will visit upon the Jewish people.
In our generation, this portion of the Torah reading can actually be seen on film and in museums. We are witness to the fact that not one word of the Torah’s description of dark future events is an exaggeration or hyperbole. This period of trouble and exile has lasted far longer than the offering of the first fruits in the Temple. Unfortunately, the residue of this second scenario is still with us and within us as we live in a very anti-Jewish world society.
Yet we are to be heartened by the concluding words of this section of the Torah that promises us that it will be the first scenario that will eventually prevail. Even though so much of the negative is still present in our current state of affairs, we should nevertheless be grateful for our restoration to sovereignty and dominion in our own homeland and for the bounty of the land that we currently enjoy.
All of this is a symbol of the beginning of the resurrection of the first scenario and the diminishing effects of the second outlined in this week's parsha. May we all be wise enough to realize this and adjust our attitudes and actions accordingly.
Shabbat shalom
Rabbi Berel Wein

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