This week’s Torah Portion begins with the ritual offering of First Fruits which contains within it the famous phrase from the Passover Seder: “My father was a wandering Aramean…” These words were meant as a reminder that the bounty of our harvest was a gift from God which we who were once wanderers without a land of our own are commanded to share with the less fortunate in our society, those who still wander without a home.
At the end of this carefully scripted ritual come the words: “I have not forgotten.”
The lesson of these words is a simple sermon on the meaning and the purpose of our lives.
When you hold in your hands the first fruits of the harvest of life’s blessings, remember.
Remember and give thanks. Remember to share your blessings. Remember where you came from every step along life’s path. Remember those who helped you to reach this day of blessing. Remember.
The Israelites are instructed to express their gratitude to God for their bountiful harvests and freedom from slavery by tithing ten percent of their crops for the Levite, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow. (26)
The people are told to display on large stones God’s commandments for all to see. (27:1-8)
The Levites are to proclaim curses upon those who violate God’s commandments. (27:15-26)
The Israelites are told that if they obey God’s mitzvot faithfully, they will receive every blessing imaginable. They are also told that if do not fulfill their brit with God, many curses will descend upon them. (28:1-69)
Moses reminds the Israelites of the miracles they witnessed in the wilderness and commands them to observe the terms of the covenant so that they may succeed in all that they undertake. (29:1-8)