Good Karma

Call it "Karma" if you like, but the Bible says obedience brings blessing and disobedience brings curses.

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Ki Tavo

Regular Shabbat Readings

Read / Listen to these Portions

  • Ki Tavo (כי תבוא | When you come in)
  • Torah: Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8
  • Haftarah: Isaiah 60:1-22
  • Gospel: Matthew 4:13-24

Note: The regular readings are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. Refer to the annual Torah Portion schedule for these special portions.

Portion Outline

  • Torah
    • Deuteronomy 26:1 | First Fruits and Tithes
    • Deuteronomy 26:16 | Concluding Exhortation
    • Deuteronomy 27:1 | The Inscribed Stones and Altar on Mount Ebal
    • Deuteronomy 27:11 | Twelve Curses
    • Deuteronomy 28:1 | Blessings for Obedience
    • Deuteronomy 28:15 | Warnings against Disobedience
    • Deuteronomy 29:2 | The Covenant Renewed in Moab
  • Prophets
    • Isaiah 60:1 | The Ingathering of the Dispersed
    • Isaiah 60:19 | God the Glory of Zion

Portion Summary

Deuteronomy 26 begins the fiftieth reading from the Torah with the words, "Then it shall be, when you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance" (26:1). In Hebrew, the words for "when you enter" are ki tavo. This Torah portion begins with laws regarding first fruits and tithes. It goes on to discuss covenant renewal, after which Moses recites the blessings guaranteed to Israel for covenant obedience and warns of the curses for apostasy.

Have you ever heard of karma? The word karma is a Sanskrit word that was originally used in Eastern religions (like Buddhism and Hindu) to express the concept of an action or deed begetting consequences in the future. A similar English concept says, "What goes around comes around." It is the idea of a cycle of cause and effect.

All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 28:2)

Karma is a pagan concept. It does not appear in the Bible, but a similar idea does. The Bible explains that deeds and actions have consequences because obedience to God begets blessing and disobedience to God begets curses. Obey God, walk in His ways and keep His commandments, and He will heap blessings upon you. At least that's how it's supposed to work, and it usually does. It's a simple prescription for a successful life.

Even a secular person will admit that big, obvious sins have negative and curse-like consequences. For example, drug and alcohol abuse leads to ruin and dysfunction. Philandering, fornication and sexual immorality lead to abortions, deviancies, diseases, broken homes and broken hearts. Robbery, murder and other crimes lead to bad ends. The pagan world would call it "bad karma." The Bible calls it curses. The world says that "karma is going to get you." The Bible says that God rewards and punishes.

The blessings and curses of Deuteronomy work on a similar principle. If Israel obeys God, they will be blessed. If they disobey God, they will be cursed. The difference between the general principle of reward and punishment and the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy is that the reward and punishment are meted out not on an individual level but on a national level. When Israel as a nation sins and strays from the Torah, the whole nation suffers for it.

When Israel walks in obedience to God's laws, the whole nation profits.

Moses told the children of Israel that the blessings of God would come upon them and overtake them. His words evoke the image of God's bounty and goodness relentlessly pursuing the people of Israel, lavishing upon them rewards for walking in obedience to the LORD. He said they would be blessed everywhere: in the city and the country. He said they would be blessed with prolific fertility through their children and livestock. He said they would be blessed with an abundance of provision: in the basket and kneading bowl. They would be blessed at every time: when they came in and when they went out. God promised to set the people of Israel high above the nations, defeat their enemies, establish them as a holy people, abound them in prosperity and set them at the forefront of all peoples.

The Apostle Paul told the believers in Ephesus that God has blessed believers "with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Messiah" (Ephesians 1:3). "Every spiritual blessing" includes the blessings in the Torah. Believers have a share in the blessings God promised to bestow upon the Jewish people. Likewise, the Apostle James, the brother of the Master, said that a man who studies the Torah and obeys its teachings will be blessed in all his endeavors. Forget about karma. Cleave to God's blessings.

Adapted From: Torah Club Commentary Set: Unrolling the Scroll. Learn more about Torah Club and how you can start a Club of your own, or join a Torah Club in your area. Visit TORAHCLUB.ORG

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