Dvar for Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8)
Parshat Ki Tavo describes the blessings that will be bestowed upon those that follow the Torah’s laws and the curses that will befall those that don’t. The Torah lists the acts that would trigger the curses, but seemingly undermines those acts being the cause by stating that the curses will befall us if we don’t serve G-d with happiness and gladness of heart (28:47). Is it the sinister acts that will cause the curses to be activated, or the lack of happiness?
Rabbi David Fohrman suggests that the initial script prescribed to the Terumah and Maaser donor frames the entire exchange, and should also frame our minds and attitudes. When bringing the crops to the temple, a donor details how difficult his ancestors’ lives had been, how we were slaves until G-d heard our cries, took us out of Egypt and led us to this land, which the donor is now privileged to share (26:5-11). Framing this act of giving is just as important as the act itself because the combination of act and perspective leads to happiness. The converse is when we think we deserve more and pervert justice to benefit ourselves, move property lines secretly, and perform other devious acts that may lead to greater wealth, but not to more happiness.
A final thought: If the act of giving and the words that accompany it are important, surely the medium in which we bring those fruits is important. It could be that the basket used to bring the fruits is meant to display how appreciative we are of the abundance that we were granted and that we are happy to present and share some of that with others. Proper perspective leads to appreciation, appreciation leads to sharing and sharing leads to true happiness.