Our Table Welcome to Our Shabbos Table

Welcome to our Shabbos Table!

We hope you enjoy this selection of short divrei Torah, presented to family and guests at our Shabbos table as a springboard for discussion. Each one is followed by a question. The responses shared at our table are enlightening, entertaining, and always thought-provoking.
Please share them at your own Shabbos table, and send us your most interesting responses. A selection of the best will be posted on the website, and eventually, included in a book. To respond, email us at responses@ourtable.org.

Parshas Ki Savo/ Service with a Smile

“Then you shall say before Hashem, your G-d: I have removed the holy [portion] from the house, and I have also given it to the Levite, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow, according to all Your commandment that You commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten [them]. I have not eaten any of it while in my mourning, nor did I consume any of it while unclean; neither did I use any of it for the dead; I obeyed Hashem, my G-d; I have done according to all that You commanded me” (Devarim 26:13–14).

In the third and sixth years of every seven-year agricultural cycle in the land of Israel, one is required not only to tithe his produce, but to declare that he has done so.

Yet the text of this declaration seems redundant. Why must one conclude with “I have done according to all that You commanded me” after he has just detailed his fulfillment of all the mitzvos related to tithing?

Love and Joy

The Mishneh Sachir answers based on the difference between mitzvos done out of love and those done out of fear. One who serves Hashem out of love is rewarded in this world as well as in the next, whereas one who serves out of fear is rewarded only in the next world.

Though there’s no reward for mitzvos in this world (Kiddushin 39b), there is the joy of doing them, which one who serves out of love certainly feels. That joy is his “reward in this world.”

Doing mitzvos with joy is crucial. As David HaMelech declared, “I rejoice over Your word as one who finds great spoil” (Tehillim 119:162). Hashem commands that our service of Him be complete. When one observes the Torah happily, he surely fulfills this command.

Joy is particularly important when performing the mitzvah of offering one’s first fruits. After all, this commandment applies during the joyous season from Shavuos until Sukkos, and the Torah specifically says of the mitzvah, “You shall rejoice in all the good that Hashem, your G-d, has granted you” (Devarim 26:11).

That’s the Spirit!

Now we can understand why our opening passage isn’t redundant. The first verse and a half confirms that one has indeed observed all the laws of tithing. Then, in addition, “I did according to all that You commanded me,” i.e., I’ve done so with great joy, out of love. As Rashi paraphrases here, “I rejoiced and I made others rejoice.”

When I was in yeshivah in 1988, I once sat in the dining room next to a student who was really, really, really into learning Torah. Even before we’d introduced ourselves, he turned to me, grabbed my lapels, hoisted me out of my chair, and proclaimed: “I love learning!” Today, that fellow is a highly regarded rosh yeshivah and still as impassioned about Torah study as ever.

Question for Discussion
What’s one mitzvah you enjoy doing, and why? Response

Several girls at our Shabbos table responded that they really feel good about tznius. By dressing normally but modestly, they feel they’re making a kiddush Hashem.