Parsha Ki Teitzei
This week’s Parsha is Ki Teitzei found in Deuteronomy 21:10 and it ends in Deuteronomy 25:19.
Common Theme of Restitution:
There are so many laws in this section of Torah. However, I will only focus on four here.
1) The woman of beautiful form:
Ki Teitzei means “When you will go out”. This parsha starts off speaking about a woman of beautiful form. Since I was once an Infantryman that was stationed in Korea and the 82nd with a deployment to Haiti, I know what it is like to not see a woman for a long period of time, the statement of a woman of a beautiful form could be anyone with the standards of a man coming out of a battlefield or a long deployment. At that point the urges of men can be overwhelming if they are not centered every day on the Almighty. It appears that HaShem (G-d) is placing a condition of grace for the soldier and the woman. The man is given grace because he is allowed to marry this woman and correct his mistakes from letting his passions overtake him. The woman is given grace because she is allowed to live when everyone else of her nation is destroyed because of their pagan ways. However, it is not easy for either. The woman has to go through a month long mourning and conversion process. She has to mourn her family as well as her old self. Restitution has to be made to this woman.
2) The Firstborn’s right:
The right of the first born is not dependent on who the mother is of the first born son. Often times in ancient society a man would have multiple wives. Marriage was viewed with a different perspective than what it is viewed as today. Today people like to marry for love, but in the ancient world they married to solidify relationships between families, communities, and even nations. Therefore, a man could have multiple wives and love one more than another. This case deals with a man that has two wives and loves the second more than the first. The Torah is teaching us that the rights of the firstborn are not dependent on the love a man has for a wife. Applying this today we see that there is a lot of divorce in the world today. It is very easy for a man to have issues with the mother of his children, obviously something lead to the divorce. Since this is the case we see that when he remarries and have children with the new wife the rights of the firstborn still stand with the firstborn. There has to be the proper restitution for the firstborn son which often bears the burden as the oldest child.
3) The Protective Fence
In verse 22:8 it speaks of the protective fence. This is one of my favorite laws in the Torah. In Israel and in other desert type environments the roofs are flat roofs and people get up on top of the flat roofs and do things like have parties. Now image you live in the middle east in a desert environment and your son just had a Bar Mitzvah and you are having a party at your house. People are up on the roof and someone had a little to drink and lost their balance and fell of the roof. They would probably die and the owner of the house would then be held guilty for not preventing it. Here the Torah is forward thinking. Build a roof and protect your interests. The Torah is the most valuable interest for the Jewish Nation, and protecting the Torah is very important and that is why the Rabbis institute Rabbinical Laws to protect us so we do not follow of the roof and violate biblical law.
4) Honest weights and measures
This seems like anyone with common sense can understand that we need to be careful with our weights and measurements. What is common sense? Common sense is obviously not that common. We need to have faith and trust in HaShem. HaShem is the one that gives us our restitution. If we cheat in weights and measures it is a lack of faith. I learned from my rabbinical lessons a couple weeks ago that 95% is 0% when it comes to faith. That is a hard statement to accept because we try so hard to have faith. Faith is a gift for a few it is so natural but for so many of us it is not. We struggle and ask many questions about what is happening to us and those around us. In the midst of all of it we need to have faith. Keeping proper weights and measurements is basically a tool for us to build our faith. We need to be faithful in this and our faith will surely grow.
This Parsha closes with a Remembrance of Amalek. We are commanded to remember what Amalek did to us as we left Egypt and traveled the desert, it is a commandment in verse 25:17. However, in verse in verse25:19 that we are to wipe out the memory of Amalek, and then we are command again in the same phrase to not forget to wipe out the memory of Amalek. This is contradictory and confusing. What can this really be saying? It is telling us that there will always be evil that we will have to deal with in this world. We need to eradicate the evil in this world. Amalek tried to destroy the Jews in the Purim Story found in the book of Ester and the same hatred tried to destroy the Jews during the Shoah (Holocaust of Nazi Germany), and even today with the Islamic Terrorist that want to push Israel into the sea and destroy it from the face of the world, and Iran that denies that the Shoah took place and wants to destroy Israel. We as Jews need to fight against the core of Evil which is in how people treat others. We need to pay attention to honest weights and measures, and all these other laws written in the Torah and HaShem will protect us. Amalek only follows after immorality, as long as we search after morality and teach we should be able to stand in our faith that Hashem will protect us.