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פרשת כי תבוא
 Prepared by Rabbi Stephen Texon
Dear Friends,

Our Torah portion this week "Ki Tavo" begins with our display of gratitude to G-d for all the good that He blesses us with by bringing the "first ripened fruits", the "Bikkurim" to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. G-d has blessed the Israelites from among all the nations of the world, and they are also to be "a light unto the nations" forever. 

A nationally recognized and most highly respected college basketball coach, John Wooden, is famous for his keen understanding of psychology, motivation and organizational behavior. He draws great parallels between life and sports, speaking of the validity and value of EACH member of a team. 

Mr. Craig Scheff, lecturer at the JTS has carried the parallel further as it relates to this week's ceremony of the bringing of the first fruits in gratitude to the creator. G-d, the Master Coach, gives everyone on "Team Israel" a moment to shine. Every player fulfills the obligation of showing up by bringing the basket of first fruits. We all follow the same playbook as everyone else on the team, and we all get meaningful minutes on the "Divine Court". I quote: "The moment is ultimately an empowering one and every player on the team participates equally. Every player is part of the narrative, sharing in the origins of the team's history as well. Every player gets credit for having contributed to the team's accomplishments. As each individual Israelite gets the chance to highlight his or her contribution to the communal effort, a sense of pride, ownership, allegiance and interdependence is fostered within the community. That is a winning formula for any team"!!

Let us take this very seriously to heart here at Temple Beth Shmuel at this crucial time in our history, and as we approach the High Holidays which are almost upon us!

Shabbat Shalom!
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