Another Illustration of Embracing Inclusivity
The recitation of the words "My Father was a Wandering Aramian…" from this week’s Torah portion Ki Tavo, marks the initiation of a formula that the Israelites were instructed to verbalize each time they presented the initial yield of their crops as an offering to God. The procedure involved assembling the offering in a basket, conveying it to the Temple, and delivering it to the priest, known as the Kohen. Subsequently, they would recite an extensive prayer recounting how God liberated them from Egypt through unwavering might and a stretched-out arm, guiding them to the Promised Land.
The Talmud, in Tractate Taanit, documents that in earlier times, those who were familiar with the words recited them during the presentation of their first fruits. Conversely, those unfamiliar with the words repeated them after the Kohen. Over time, individuals who lacked familiarity with the words ceased bringing their first fruits due to feelings of embarrassment and shame. In response, the rabbis mandated that everyone recite the words after the Kohen.
This stands as one of three instances in which the rabbis decreed changes to ensure the comprehensive inclusion of all individuals in communal rituals and practices. It was a significant step for the rabbis to alter a ritual explicitly outlined in the Torah, yet the concepts of dignity and inclusion held enough weight for them to confidently embrace this adjustment.
As a Jewish community, it is our responsibility to actively cultivate an environment characterized by warmth and comfort, facilitating active participation and engagement. This theme resonates as our focal point and challenge for the year 5784 at Midbar Kodesh Temple.