Planting Seeds in a Pandemic
Our parsha (Torah portion) this week is Ki Tavo, which translates as "when you will come/arrive." We are nearing the end of the Torah, and Moses is telling the Jewish people what they should do when they enter the Holy Land, after their great journey of wandering in the desert for 40 years.
Moses, on behalf of G-d, commands the Israelites to bring their "first fruits" to the Temple. This commandment is meant to be done after the Israelites settle into the land (after all, it can take years to grow fruit!). In other words, this is a commandment that cannot be fulfilled right away, but must be planned for.
I find this commandment interesting in its placement in the text. Of all the things that the Israelites need to do in order to survive and thrive in the land (which Moses will go on to share), why is this commandment the first thing mentioned in this parsha? They won't see the fruits of their labor (literally!) until three years later.
I think that Moses' instruction here offers us wisdom for our current moment, as we continue to transition and move through life with COVID. There are important things we need to take care of in the moment. Perhaps it's buying face masks, cleaning our homes, and social distancing from others. But what are the seeds that we should plant now in order to see their benefit in the future? What things do we want to hope and dream for in the future, and how can we start planning for them now? The Torah reminds us to keep these hopes and dreams in the front of our minds as we move through this time.
Written by Lauren Schuchart, Associate Director at Berkeley Hillel