As we all have made our way back to Dubai, from the many places we go to spend the summer; we are all, really, coming back home. We bring with us the beautiful memories of our summer events, our traveling and vacations. For some, it’s a sad moment because we would prefer to have a longer summer; for others it couldn’t be soon enough, and yet for others, it is just the right time.
For all of us however, it is good to have come back home.
This week’s Perashat Ki Tabo opens up with the words “”והיה כי תבוא – “and it will be when you come…”, which speaks about the details of the commandment, after the land of Israel will be conquered, to bring the first ripened fruits to the Temple and present them. The ritual included a declaration of gratitude to the A-mighty for His guidance, benevolence and intervention in history on behalf of the Jewish people.
As the Israelites were to enter the Land of Israel, they were indeed returning home! After 400 years of exile and slavery in Egypt, and forty years traveling in the desert, they were, finally, to enter the land and return home. Their sense of gratitude was immense, their indebtedness to G-d was all encompassing and their love for the land was unwavering. As the land was allocated to the farmers and as they began working the land, they came to the realization that for a Jew, his every achievement, no matter how much he invested in it, is a gift from G-d. Not only the land is a gift, but the produce of the land was also a gift.
As we return back home from our long summer, we ought to give thanks to the A-mighty for the countless gifts that He has given us; not only throughout this summer or past summers, but also throughout our entire lives.
We ought to demonstrate to G-d a greater sense of appreciation and gratitude for the greatest gifts that He has given us; our free will, our ability to recognize right from wrong and good from bad, our ability to decide, produce and accomplish. As these gifts are being questioned by many, claiming that we have no choice and no free will, that we are not responsible for our actions and that everything is predetermined, a greater emphasis should be made toward our gratefulness and appreciation of these gifts. We ought to guard them with all our conviction, defend them with all of our might and pray for them with all of our soul. As our forefathers have shown appreciation after only 400 years of exile and slavery, by working the land, producing, and bringing their first fruits as a show of gratitude, so too we should show our appreciation by participating, in community events, contributing to the success of the community and its growth.
Rabbi Dr. Elie Abadie
Jewish Council of the Emirates