“Blessed shall you be in the city and blessed shall you be in the country.” (Deuteronomy 28:3) The Torah, unlike the character of Carrie Bradshaw from Sex & The City, does not make a judgment call for which is a better place to reside, the city or the country. The Midrash in Devarim Rabbah 7:5 teaches that the phrase “in the city” refers to the rewards for the active mitzvot we perform while in a city, including sitting in the Sukkah and lighting candles for Shabbat. The Midrash teaches that the phrase “in the country” refers to the rewards for the passive mitzvot we perform in the fields, such as leaving sections of the harvest for the poor.
While we may be less likely to engage in mitzvot involving the harvest, let’s envision creative ways to help others without much effort on our part. Whether we leave tips for underpaid support staff at a hotel, or we drop off extra fruits and vegetables at the local food pantry via ampleharvest.org, let Parashat Ki Tavo’s blessing be a reminder of the variety of mitzvot we can perform as city slickers or country folk.