Parsha – Ki Teitzei


It is nearing Shabbat once again and it is time to delve in the enlightening wisdom of our Holy Torah. This weeks Parsha is called “Ki Teitzei” which is from the book of Devarim {Deuteronomy} 21:10-25:19. This parsha contains so many mitzvahs, 74 to be exact, that it is always inspiring to read. Our Parsha contains the most mitzvahs of any portion in the Torah.

This Parsha contains the following well-known mitzvahs:

  1. The laws of the beautiful captive.
  2. The laws of the rebellious son.
  3. Burial and dignity of the dead.
  4. The laws of returning lost items.
  5. The law of sending away the mother bird.
  6. The law of erecting a parapet around a roof.
  7. The laws of inheritance.
  8. The command to remember what Amalek did to us.

The first aliyah starts with the discussion of what to do with female captives of war. Because the Torah recognizes that men in war are often fighting within themselves a mighty yetzer hara, it provides a method which allows them to take a non-Jewish captive woman as a wife. Let us read together:

21:10. If you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord, your G-d, will deliver him into your hands, and you take his captives, 11. and you see among the captives a beautiful woman and you desire her, you may take [her] for yourself as a wife. 12. You shall bring her into your home, and she shall shave her head and let her nails grow. 13. And she shall remove the garment of her captivity from upon herself, and stay in your house, and weep for her father and her mother for a full month. After that, you may be intimate with her and possess her, and she will be a wife for you. 14. And it will be, if you do not desire her, then you shall send her away wherever she wishes, but you shall not sell her for money. You shall not keep her as a servant, because you have afflicted her. 15. If a man has two wives-one beloved and the other despised-and they bear him sons, the beloved one and the despised one, and the firstborn son is from the despised one. 16. Then it will be, on the day he [the husband] bequeaths his property to his sons, that he will not be able to give the son of the beloved [wife] birthright precedence over the son of the despised [wife]-the [real] firstborn son. 17. Rather, he must acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the despised [wife] and give him a double share in all that he possesses, because he [this firstborn son] is the first of his strength, then he has the birthright entitlement. 18. If a man has a wayward and rebellious son, who does not obey his father or his mother, and they chasten him, and [he still] does not listen to them, 19. his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, and to the gate of his place. 20. And they shall say to the elders of his city, “This son of ours is wayward and rebellious; he does not obey us; [he is] a glutton and a guzzler.” 21. And all the men of his city shall pelt him to death with stones, and he shall die. So shall you clear out the evil from among you, and all Israel will listen and fear.

In this portion we learn of the command to pelt the rebellious son with stones till death. This command was never carried out by the Jewish court but it is given to us in Torah to teach a lesson. It is better to kill the rebellious son while still young than to allow him to grow to be a murderer. Also the proximity of the mitzvah of the rebellious son to the captive woman would indicate that a child born of such a relation would probably grow up to be a rebellious son.

The next aliyah reads:

22. If a man commits a sin for which he is sentenced to death, and he is put to death, you shall [then] hang him on a pole. 23. But you shall not leave his body on the pole overnight. Rather, you shall bury him on that [same] day, for a hanging [human corpse] is a blasphemy of G-d, and you shall not defile your land, which the Lord, your G-d, is giving you as an inheritance.

22:1. You shall not see your brother’s ox or sheep straying, and ignore them. [Rather,] you shall return them to your brother. 2. But if your brother is not near you, or if you do not know him, you shall bring it into your house, and it shall be with you until your brother seeks it out, whereupon you shall return it to him. 3. So shall you do with his donkey, and so shall you do with his garment, and so shall you do with any lost article of your brother which he has lost and you have found. You shall not ignore [it]. 4. You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fallen [under its load] on the road, and ignore them. [Rather,] you shall pick up [the load] with him. 5. A man’s attire shall not be on a woman, nor may a man wear a woman’s garment because whoever does these [things] is an abomination to the Lord, your G-d. 6. If a bird’s nest chances before you on the road, on any tree, or on the ground, and [it contains] fledglings or eggs, if the mother is sitting upon the fledglings or upon the eggs, you shall not take the mother upon the young. 7. You shall send away the mother, and [then] you may take the young for yourself, in order that it should be good for you, and you should lengthen your days.

The first mitzvah is regarding the sanctity of the human body. Torah teaches that even a wicked man who deserves to be hanged to death should not have his body left for the vultures. Because every man and woman is made in the image of Hashem the body is sacred. The next mitzvah discussed is the mitzvah or returning lost items. A Jew is required to store an item which was lost until the owner comes looking for it. Torah expressly forbids men wearing womens clothing and vice versa. Then we learn the mitzvah of sending away the mother bird when taking eggs. Much has been written about this mitzvah because it is one of the only mitzvahs where Torah expressly lists the reward. In this case the reward for the mitzvah of sending away the mother bird is to lengthen our days.

The next aliyah contains the mitzvah of the parapet:

22:8 When you build a new house, you shall make a guard rail for your roof, so that you shall not cause blood [to be spilled] in your house, that the one who falls should fall from it [the roof].

Then Torah goes on an mentions all kinds of forbidden mixtures including:

  1. plowing ox and donkey together
  2. wearing clothes with mixed wool and linen

A man cannot make unfounded claims against his wife because he doesnt like her. If a man makes accusations against her which are not substantiated by evidence then he is unable to divorce her. But if she is unfaithful to him, she can suffer the death penalty. Torah then discusses the penalties for rape and adultery. The aliyah continues:

23:1. A man shall not take his father’s wife, nor shall he uncover the corner of his father’s [cloak]. 2. [A man] with injured testicles or whose member is cut, may not enter the assembly of the Lord. 3. A bastard shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; even the tenth generation shall not enter the assembly of the Lord. 4. An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; even the tenth generation shall never enter the assembly of the Lord. 5. Because they did not greet you with bread and water on the way, when you left Egypt, and because he [the people of Moab] hired Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor in Aram Naharaim against you, to curse you. 6. But the Lord, your G-d, did not want to listen to Balaam. So the Lord, your G-d, transformed the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord, your G-d, loves you. 7. You shall not ever seek out their welfare or their good, all your days.

The fifth aliyah discusses keeping the camp clean of filth and abomination. It continues:

8. You shall not despise an Edomite, for he is your brother. You shall not despise an Egyptian, for you were a sojourner in his land. 9. Children who are born to them [in] the third generation may enter the assembly of the Lord. 10. When a camp goes out against your enemies, you shall beware of everything evil. 11. If there is among you a man who is unclean because of a nocturnal emission, he shall go outside the camp. He shall not come within the camp. 12. And it shall be, towards evening, he shall bathe in water, and when the sun sets, he may come within the camp. 13. And you shall have a designated place outside the camp, so that you can go out there [to use it as a privy]. 14. And you shall keep a stake in addition to your weapons; and it shall be, when you sit down outside [to relieve yourself], you shall dig with it, and you shall return and cover your excrement. 15. For the Lord, your G-d, goes along in the midst of your camp, to rescue you and to deliver your enemies before you. [Therefore,] your camp shall be holy, so that He should not see anything unseemly among you and would turn away from you. 16. You shall not deliver a slave to his master if he seeks refuge with you from his master. 17. [Rather,] he shall [be allowed to] reside among you, wherever he chooses within any of your cities, where it is good for him. You shall not oppress him. 18. There shall not be a prostitute of the daughters of Israel, and there shall not be a male prostitute of the sons of Israel. 19. You shall not bring a prostitute’s fee or the price of a dog, to the House of the Lord, your G-d, for any vow, because both of them are an abomination to the Lord, your G-d. 20. You shall not give interest to your brother, [whether it be] interest on money, interest on food or interest on any [other] item for which interest is [normally] taken. 21. You may [however,] give interest to a gentile, but to your brother you shall not give interest, in order that the Lord, your G-d, shall bless you in every one of your endeavors on the land to which you are coming to possess. 22. When you make a vow to the Lord, your G-d, you shall not delay in paying it, for the Lord, your G-d, will demand it of you, and it will be [counted as] a sin for you. 23. But if you shall refrain from making vows, you will have no sin. 24. Observe and do what is emitted from your lips just as you have pledged to the Lord, your G-d, as a donation, which you have spoken with your mouth.

Here we learn that Israel should always strive to be holy. We do this by removing ourselves from the unclean, keeping sexual purity, and by treating our brothers and sisters properly. We also must be true to our word.

There is much to learn from this Parsha. I will continue this in my next posting.


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