Our Coming In And Our Going Out

Parashat Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8[9])

When the Torah says things in an unusual way, it’s usually to teach us an important lesson. Normally, when we think of a person’s comings and goings, it is from the perspective of first leaving a place and then returning to it. The Torah, however, has a different frame of reference: 

Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. (Deuteronomy 28:6)

According to the Torah, a person first enters and then departs. Rabbi Yochanan interprets this to mean that our coming in and going out are the points by which we enter and depart from this world:

“Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out” — that thine exit from the world shall be as thine entry therein: just as thou enterest it without sin, so mayest thou leave it without! (b.Bava Metzia 107a)

The point at which man comes into this world is his birth; his going out is his death. The thing we call life is that short span between these two points. We are merely sojourners during the course of our life here in this world.

Rabbi Yochanan connects these two points of entrance and departure with the common theme of blessing. He says that just as a person enters this world without sin, a person is truly blessed if he is also able to leave this world without sin. But how do we do this? Is it even possible? Evidently, Paul thought it was. His hope was to deliver his disciples into the hands of Yeshua “pure and blameless”:

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9–11)

But in order to present ourselves pure and blameless at the end of our days, we must make every moment count of the time allotted to us in this world. We must work to purge ourselves from the control of our flesh and take upon ourselves the yoke of the Kingdom each and every day. The good news Yeshua offered was one of repentance in anticipation of the coming Kingdom. He taught us that the rest of our lives did not have to be wasted like our previous days, months, or years. Through sincere repentance we could cleanse our past and alter our future—and not only our future, but the future of others as well. 

Yeshua taught several parables connected to the final accounting of the soul. Matthew 25 records Yeshua teaching the Parable of the Ten Virgins and the Parable of the Talents leading up to his teaching about the final judgment. His point in these teachings is for us to be prepared for the day on which we would be presented back to our Creator.

We are in this world only for a limited time. Rabbi Jacob used to say, “This world is like a hallway to the future world. Prepare yourself in the hallway that you may enter into the banquet hall” (Avot 4:21). We are not promised tomorrow. We must be prepared for our departure. We must make every moment count so that we can depart as blameless as when we entered this world. How will you spend today? Tomorrow? The days following? How will you use the time you have been given today to prepare for your departure tomorrow? Will you invest your time into becoming all that you were created for, or will you squander your time here and be ashamed on the day of reckoning? May your departure from this vestibule be as blessed as your entrance into it.