This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Ki Teitzei 5774 is being sponsored by Nachum and Michal Kligman and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh to wish for much continued success with Mianzi Fashion and Hotslocha to their son Moshe Shlomo ben Michal. To the Kligman family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.
You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.
Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
Parsha Ki Teitsei teaches numerous Mitzvot such as; returning lost items to their rightful owners, loaning money to one’s fellow Jew free from interest, what one is permitted to or prohibited from taking from another Jew as loan security, the laws of Shatnes (wool and linen together), Tzitzit, and dealing fairly and truthfully with one’s fellow Jews in business. We also learn of Mitzvot such as sending a mother bird away before taking the young or the eggs and helping one’s fellow Jew load and unload a burden, fencing in a roof area and not harnessing together different species of animals on the same yoke.
Our parsha also contains a posuk (Sefer Devarim, Perek 2, posuk 5) regarding male and female garb and the prohibition against cross-dressing, considered by Hashem as “an abomination.” This prohibition relates closely to Parshat Acharei Mos in Sefer Vayikra. There, Torah teaches (Sefer Vayikra, chapter 18, posukim 22-23):
“You shall not lie with a man as one lies with a woman, it is an abomination. Do not lie with any animal to be contaminated with it; a woman shall not stand before an animal for mating, it is a perversion.”
Rashi comments on the word “abomination” in the Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Vayikra, chapter 18, posuk 22:
An abomination. None of the relationships given above [in Sefer Vayikra, chapter 18, posukim 6-20] are described with this term of disgust, because they involve normal activity, though with prohibited mates. Homosexuality [and bestiality], however is unnatural and therefore abominable.
Rabbi Henach Leibowitz, in his sefer “Majesty of Man”, comments on the state of our society today, something we may all know, but maybe don’t yet sufficiently internalize:
…Conduct once considered unthinkable is now commonplace. Acts of immorality, vulgarity… which Torah defines as abominations and only a generation ago were considered unimaginable, are now paraded openly without shame.
Do we realize the effect our environment has on us? Our neshamas are holy and pure, created in Hashem’s image and instilled with the sensitivity of the Torah’s moral standards.
The Maftir Aliyah of our Parsha tells us collectively to remember, for all time, the actions of Amalek who attacked B’nai Yisrael when they were weak while blotting the remembrance of Amalek from the earth.
We remember the Amelek without, but it seems a necessity that we remember the Amalek within as well; lo nishkach v’lo Nislach — we won’t forgive and we can’t and won’t forget the lack of justice, principle and morality of Israel’s governance as exemplified by the evictions of the last nine years; i.e., the expulsion of Jewish Brethren from Gush Katif, Amona, the events in Chevron — in Shalhevet neighborhood, Beit Shapira, Beit HaShalom, Federman’s farm, Ulpana in Beit El and more.
And we can’t overlook the equivocal actions, best summed up as “being merciful to the cruel, and cruel to the merciful”, by the current Israeli government during a Milchamet Shel Torah, a mandatory war for the defense of, and survival of Am Yisrael and of our sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael.
These equivocal actions amount to not fighting the war with a strategy for complete victory, toleration of repeated ceasefires violated by the enemy,
provisions of such ceasefires perceived as victories by murderous, terrorist enemies and allegedly once again offering to free terrorists in exchange for the 2 dead soldiers apparently in enemy hands.
We also can’t forget Jonathan Pollard who turned 60 years old in August and who has suffered nearly 29 years in US prison and years of solitary confinement. The extraordinary length of his incarceration is due in large part to a benignly neglectful and disdainful Israeli governance who slammed the Embassy doors on their agent when he sought asylum and then were content for decades to seeing him languish in prison. Only recently, over the last two or so years, did Israel’s prime minister, president and governance begin making sounds on Pollard’s behalf due to intense pressure — or perhaps not to be embarrased by being outdone by the numbers of influential Americans calling for the President’s commutation of Pollard’s term to time served.
Only at such time as repeated verbal contrition, and frank admissions of the errors, misjudgements, appeasements and prejudices against other Jews regarding these.past events are substantiated by strong indications, Yehuda-esque (related to confronting the Viceroy regarding hs brother Benyamin) is forgiveness and a beginning to building of unity possible.
In short, our Parsha emphasizes that the unity with which B’nai Yisrael L’Chatchila is to go out to war against her enemies evolves from collective responsibility, kindness, caring and fairness for and with each other fellow Jew. These attributes of being fair, straight with, and caring for another person are kinder than the insensitivity, indifference and disunity of making up any and every excuse or non-reason under the sun for an action or kindness not done. Collective unity — responsibility, kindness, caring and fairness for and with each other negates the possibility of a kindness not shown; whether the action relates to Shidduchim, to employment searching and interviews, to giving Tzeddakah, respecting the kavanah (intent) of others when saying Aleinu, etc. or merely making the effort to hold a bus driver for another few seconds while his fellow huffs and puffs under the weight of grocery bags as he runs to catch the bus. This relates to each Jew and how he relates toward his fellow Jew, both on a personal level and collectively.
In previous writings, the performance of mitzvot has been equated with a weight scale by asking; who among us mortals can know which mitzvah, even the smallest “Eikev” mitzvah, might just tip the scales, both in terms of any particular individual or on behalf of the collective national redemption of B’nai Yisrael? In short, having just entered the Elul season, “the days of awe” and the run up to the Yom HaDin, the Day of Judgement, we need to try honestly and objectively to look back, review and examine our actions over the past year and longer.
Our lives and our hopes for a good year and good things to come hang in the balance of the Cheshbon, if you will, between our Mitzvot (good deeds) and our Aveirot (sins or violations of Divine law). Once again, as 5774 approaches, it’s “Clutch time” and as that famous coach says, “Our Mitzvot aren’t everything, they’re the Only Thing.”
May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!
Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.