To our 9:00 am Shabbat Ark of Prayer and the Mishpacha within,
This week’s parsha is Ki Tavo: Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8, Isaiah 60:1-22, Acts 7:30-36. Hebrew for “when you enter”.
We see in Deuteronomy 26 of this week’s parsha that the Israelites are responsible for the physical and spiritual well-being of those around them including foreigners and Levites (the Temple priests and their assistants).
Because the Israelites were an agricultural society we see G-d talking about “first fruits” offered to Him in the context of plants and animals. Those gifts to G-d were then used to help the “Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows so that they will have enough to eat”. Then they were to declare, in the presence of the L-rd, that they actually distributed their first fruits to these people.
In our technological, knowledge worker, manufacturing society perhaps first fruits in our culture is our personal time and money. This might take the form of service and financial help to others in the name of the L-rd.
But I know most of us are so overbooked trying to make a living, which often requires a long commute, and provide quality activates for our kids (sports, music lessons, tutoring, college, etc.) while sustaining a marriage, that we do not have time for anything else.
I believe being over booked is a huge problem that is difficult to solve in our personal lives because we all want things beyond our basic daily bread. Being over booked, in my life, means that I do not have the bandwidth to notice other people in difficulty or pain, let alone to actually do something to help them.
Few of us are willing to reduce our standard of living or aspirations so that we can be of greater service to G-d by being of service to others around us in the name of the L-rd.
Some years ago, in an attempt to be more available to my family as well as be more G-d honoring with how I spent my time, I switched from a career that required that I be away from home many evenings and weekends to one that allowed working from home.
I confess when I switched careers I was not doing so with the intent to reduce our standard of living so I could have more time with and for G-d, but to try to “have it all”.
Today, with my kids grown, I try to tithe about 10% of my time (16 hours/day x 7 days = 112 hrs. / week x 10% = 12 hours/week).
I include the time at Temple as part of my time tithe (about 8:45 am – 3:30 pm = approx. 7 hours). I include Temple because I spend time there conducting various ministry activities, talking to people about how they’re doing and generally looking for opportunities to be helpful or encouraging.
Then, on a typical Sunday, I spend 2 – 5 hours working on various volunteer projects or tasks my wife would like accomplished.
During the week, as part of my food recovery, I make “outreach calls” to offer encouragement and support to my peers and receive the same for me from them. I also attend recovery meetings which all have a service component even if I am only just talking to the people there.
Finally, notice that the Israelites are instructed to celebrate “all the good things the L-rd has given to you and your household” and to “include all the Levites and foreigners. This communal, as well as personal, celebration of G-d’s gifts to them is after they (includes Israelites made of families, orphans and widows) provide their offering at the Temple.
I think it is important to spend time together as a congregational family, whether celebrating our lives together or remembering the difficulties and what we learned from G-d’s answer to them. I'm beginning to make more of an effort to spend time with TAJ people in addition to Shabbat ... how about you?
May you be blessed this week, “when you enter” the routine of your life, with the opportunity to share your experience, strength and hope with someone that can use your light and love.
I hope that if you are able, you will join the 9:00 am Shabbat Teva Tefillah. We pray for the Temple, for Israel and our government.
Blessings to you and yours. May this week be G-d filled and peaceful within the storm.
Your brother in Yeshua in the TEVA TEFILLAH,
Posted on Wed, September 10, 2014
by Kurt Wilson