For the week ending 6 September 2014 / 11 Elul 5774

Parshat Ki Tetzei

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. Bnei Yisrael 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 make 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 amitzvah 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 parsha concludes with the mitzvah to erase the name of Amalek, for, in spite of knowing about the Exodus, they ambushed the Jewish People.


The Wheat is Greener

“When you go out to war against your enemy and the L-rd your G-d gives him into your hand…” (21:1)

Sometimes the words of our Holy Torah leap of the page with a contemporary significance that makes further commentary redundant.

“When you go out to war against your enemy and the L-rd your G-d gives him into your hand…”

The upcoming year is a Shemita agricultural Sabbatical year in which the fields of the Land of Israel must lie fallow.

Thus, a matza-baking chabura (group) from Bnei Brak was searching the whole Land for a wheat field that would yield grain sufficient for two years of matza production.

They needed very green wheat sown late in the season, watered mainly by late-falling rain. At Kibbutz Sufa right next to the Gaza border they found 2000 dunams, nearly 500 acres of green wheat, sown in mid-January, which was considered very unusual. This was what they had been looking for.

They went to work.

However, their efforts did not escape the notice of the military police who were somewhat surprised to see a group of bearded rabbis with their peyot flying, merrily driving their combine harvesters up and down in clear sight of the artillery barrage in Gaza. (Editor’s note: Their behavior is not recommended or supported by the author or by this publication; it is a report of the event.)

They carried on working even when they heard the sirens, confident in the protection that their work for the good of the community would bestow on them.

The following week, 13 terrorists from Gaza emerged from their tunnel in the middle of these fields, confident that their exit would be screened by 2000 dunams of wheat. Their only problem was that the wheat was now on its way to Bnei Brak!

As soon as the terrorists emerged from the tunnel the army opened fire, saving many Jewish lives by the Grace of Heaven.

“When you go out to war against your enemy and the L-rd your G-d gives him into your hand…”

  • Source: Rabbi Aharon Samet in a radio interview with Rabbi Moshe Ben Lulu

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