Torah Weekly

For the week ending 21 August 2021 / 13 Elul 5781

Parashat Ki Teitzei

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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The Torah describes the only permissible way a woman captured in battle may be married. If a man marries two wives, and the less-favored wife bears a firstborn son, this son's right to inherit a double portion is protected against the father's desire to favor the child of the favored wife. The penalty for a rebellious son, who will inevitably degenerate into a monstrous criminal, is stoning. A body must not be left on the gallows overnight, because it had housed a holy soul. Lost property must be returned. Men are forbidden from wearing women's clothing and vice versa. A mother bird may not be taken together with her eggs. A fence must be built around the roof of a house. It is forbidden to plant a mixture of seeds, to plow with an ox and a donkey together, or to combine wool and linen in a garment. A four-cornered garment must have twisted threads tzitzit on its corners. Laws regarding illicit relationships are detailed. When Israel goes to war, the camp must be governed by rules of spiritual purity. An escaped slave must not be returned to his master.

Taking interest for lending to a Jew is forbidden. The Jewish People are not to make vows. A worker may eat of the fruit he is harvesting. Divorce and marriage are legislated. For the first year of marriage, a husband is exempt from the army and stays home to rejoice with his wife. Tools of labor may not be impounded, as this prevents the debtor from earning a living. The penalty for kidnapping for profit is death. Removal of the signs of the disease tzara'at is forbidden. Even for an overdue loan, the creditor must return the collateral daily if the debtor needs it. Workers' pay must not be delayed. The guilty may not be subjugated by punishing an innocent relative. Because of their vulnerability, converts and orphans have special rights of protection. The poor are to have a portion of the harvest. A court may impose lashes. An ox must not be muzzled while threshing. It is a mitzvah for a man to marry his brother's widow if the deceased left no offspring. Weights and measures must be accurate and used honestly. The Torah portion concludes with the mitzvah to erase the name of Amalek, for, in spite of knowing about the Exodus, they ambushed and attacked the Jewish People.


Beating the Beast

“When you go out to war against your enemies…” (21:10)

The BBC ran an article on July 21st about Lee Butler.

“Butler was a cocaine addict and he hated himself. But now Lee hasn't had a drink or taken drugs for four years — and insists he never will again.

“Lee tried Alcoholics Anonymous, which has helped millions of people around the world, but didn't like their 12-step approach. He wanted to feel powerful, not — as the first step states — powerless. He wanted to beat his addiction, not battle it every day.

“‘I just couldn't buy into this ‘addiction is a disease, you're powerless, and you have to surrender.’ They say you have to take one day at a time, for the rest of your life, and every day you wake up you're an addict. I just thought — I don't want that future.’"

“It was while visiting one recovery service that Lee met Chris Farrell, a counselor who introduced him to Addictive Voice Recognition Technique. AVRT was coined by an American ex-alcoholic, Jack Trimpey, who calls it a ’very simple thinking skill that permits anyone to recover immediately and completely from alcohol or drugs.’

“The technique is not that well known in rehabilitation circles. Some experts contacted by the BBC had not heard of it; one charity — while not dismissing it — said it was not ‘evidence-based.’ ‘As I understand it, there is not any evidence base to support it — but that may be because no one has researched it,’ said one professor from a different organization.

But for Lee, AVRT “just clicked immediately.”

“In effect, says Lee, AVRT recognizes that ‘two parts of you are at war’ — the rational voice and the addictive voice; the real you and, as Trimpey dubs it, ‘the beast.’”

“When you go out to war against your enemies…”

When we go out against our greatest enemy, our Negative Drive; when we try to do Teshuva, to return to Hashem, our first step is recognizing that our ‘addictive voice’ is not us.

In the service of Yom Kippur, two identical goats are selected. One is brought as a korban and the other is hurled from the summit or a peak in the Judean desert known as Azazel. The goat that is brought on the mizbeach — the Holy Altar — represents the Yetzer HaTov — the ‘rational voice.’ The goat that is sent to the desert is the ‘beast.’ They are almost identical. The message is that the only way a person can rescue himself from the many addictions of this world is to sort out the ‘rational voice’ from ‘the beast.’

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