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Daily Aliya for Ki Tavo, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

Aliya Summary: The Jewish people are instructed to proclaim blessings and curses on Mts. Grizzim and Ebal. The elders of the Levite Tribe together with the Holy Ark stood between the two mountains, and six tribes were stationed atop each mountain. The Leviim and priests faced each mountain alternately, and stated the blessing and curses. At the end of the Aliya, we are told of the bountiful blessings which will shower us if we hearken to G‑d’s commandments.

The setup for this entire exercise is curious: The fact that mountains represent blessings and curses is strange enough, but to have the tribes stand on one of the mountains is even stranger. If the mountains represent distinct and mutually exclusive choices we make in our lives, then why have (seemingly) random tribes stand on each of them? This requires much more research, but what strikes me in all of this is the similarity to many motivational speakers who make you visualize and verbalize your dreams and goals. It’s one thing to study, talk and imagine something, and quite another to be actively involved in it, probably why schools use this method to teach children about important concepts. Standing on these mountains makes it more real and mandates participation. This might explain the importance of Shul, regardless of actual participation in the davening (service), much like the tribes standing on the mountain and answering “Amen”, their attendance (and ours in Shul) does more than we may know or realize.