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KI TEITZEI "When you go out"


Deut. 21:10-25:19

Isaiah 54:1-10

1 Cor. 5:1-5

 

We continue to look towards the High Holy Days, and remember we are in the midst of the month of ELUL, when we are to look deeply into our soul and ask ourselves where we are in our walk with HaShem.

 

There are many difficult topics here in this Parasha, including seventy-two commandments, both positive and negative, as counted by Maimonides.


In this portion we learn about commandments, precepts, statutes and judgments. Some of these are laws about capturing foreign women, the rights of the first-born, wayward and rebellious sons, caring for the dead, returning lost objects, the care for birds and their young, protecting people from injury by placing a fence around the roof. We are not to mix wool and linen. An ox and an ass (donkey) are not to be yoked together just as we are not to be unequally yoked. There are laws that relate to penalties for adultery, rape and marriage to a Moabite or Ammonite.


We are to keep the camp pure, pay workers on time and not turn in an escaped slave. Proper treatment of a debtor and not charging interest on loans are discussed. Finally, the portion ends with the commandment to not forget who Amalek was and what he did to the Israelites when they came out of Egypt.


Many of these regulations have to do with how we are to treat others. The watchword of our faith, the Shema, is from Deuteronomy 6:4-8. It begins, "Hear O Israel, the Lord is our GOD, the Lord is one." Hertz states that these words enshrine Judaism's greatest contribution to the religious thought of mankind. They constitute the primal confession of faith in the religion of the Synagogue, declaring that the Holy GOD worshipped and proclaimed by Israel is One; and that He alone is GOD. Who was, is, and ever will be. That opening sentence of the Shema rightly occupies the central place in Jewish religious thought, for every other Jewish belief turns upon it; all goes back to it; all flows from it.


The Shema declares war against all of polytheism and paganism, the worship of many deities. It excludes pantheism, the belief that all or many can be divine, as being legitimate. The affirmation from the Shema rests in the concept of the brotherhood of man and the unity of GOD. The conception of Monotheism opened our eyes to the unity of the universe under one GOD. Our one GOD is righteous and omnipotent, the Ruler of the universe.


Our sages saw the ultimate war in this portion of Scripture, the battle that rages within us. As 1Corinthians 5:7 tells us, we must get rid of the old yeast (old nature) and put on the new nature.


As we look to a new year (Rosh Hashanah) and as the trumpet will sound, let us awake from our slumber (Ephesians 5:14) and put on our new self.


Shavua Tov


Rabbi Z.

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