Overview of the Weekly
To be read on the Shabbat of 9 Elul 5762 (Aug.17)
Torah: Deut. 21:10-25:19
54:1-54:10 (5th of the Seven Haftorahs of Consolation)
Chapter Two, (Chapter One outside of Israel)
Stats: Ki Tetze contains 27 positive mitzvot and
47 prohibitive mitzvot. Among the Weekly Readings,
Ki Tetze ranks 28 out of 54 in number of verses, 23 in
number of words, and 26 in number of letters;
it is written on 213 lines in a Torah parchment scroll, 21
in overall length.
Much of Ki Tetze (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:18) is a series of laws. The
first describes the process of converting and marrying women captives
of war from other nations. Next are the laws of a firstborn son's inheritance,
the punishment of a rebellious son, burial of a hanged sinner, returning
lost articles, helping a Jew's fallen animal to stand and return its
load, the prohibition to wear clothes of the opposite gender, removing
a mother bird before taking her eggs or young, and placing a guard rail
on the roof of a building. This is followed by the prohibition of planting
together different plant species, plowing with different animal species
under one yoke, and wearing a garment of linen and wool. Male Jews are
commanded to wear tzitzit (fringes) on four cornered garments.
Next are the laws of the defamed wife-accused of false virginity or
infidelity-and the consequences when the accusation is proven true or
false. Laws regarding betrothal, rape, incest, bastardry, and marriage
to converts from certain nations are also listed. The Jews are commanded
to be modest even at war, both sexually and when relieving themselves.
Jews are forbidden to return runaway slaves (who came to Israel from
elsewhere) to their masters. The Jews are forbidden to be promiscuous,
and to charge interest from other Jews. They are also required to fulfill
vows on time, allow employees to eat from produce they are working with,
and are explained the laws of divorce and remarriage. A bridegroom is
not drafted; a millstone may not be used as security for a loan; and
a kidnapper's punishment is described. The Jews are reminded to be careful
about laws of leprosy, how to take security for loans, and to pay wages
on time. Certain close relatives may not testify against each other;
widows and orphans must be treated properly; forgotten harvested produce
must be left in the field for the needy; flogging by court order must
be exact; and animals may not be muzzled when treading grain. When a
man dies leaving his wife childless, his brother or closest kinsman
is commanded to marry her. The laws of such a case are described as
well as a situation where the relative chooses not to marry the widow.
Next is the law concerning a woman who became involved in an assault
on her husband. The Jews are reminded to be honest in their weights
and measures, and to remember how Amalek attacked the Jews when we went
out of Egypt.
THE CHASSIDIC REBBES (V:49-62/Ki
"When you go forth to war against (literally "above")
your enemies." (21:10)
When you go forth into battle with complete trust in the G-d of Israel,
secure in the knowledge that G-d stands by your side to assist, you are
automatically "above" your enemies as soon as you embark on
"He may write her a bill of divorcement." (24:1)
Why is the Biblical "bill of divorcement" ("sefer ke'ritut"
called a "get"? Because the letters of the word "get,"
gimel and tet, are never found next to each other in any
word of the entire Torah--the Five Books of Moses, the Prophets, or the
FROM THE MASTERS OF KABBALAH (O:49-62/Ki
permission from the five-volume English edition of Ohr HaChaim: the
Torah Commentary of Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar, as translated and annotated
by Eliyahu Munk.
The holy Rabbi Chayim ben Moses Attar was born in Sale, Western Morocco,
on the Atlantic in 1696. His immortal commentary on the Five Books Of
Moses, Or Hachayim, was printed in Venice in 1741, while the author was
on his way to the Holy Land. He acquired a reputation as a miracle worker,
hence his title "the holy," although some apply this title only
to his Torah commentary.
"And they shall fine him one hundred shekalim." [22:19]
This is an allusion to the one hundred benedictions each one of us is
meant to recite every day as explained in Menachot 43, based on
Deut. 10:12: "and now what, [mah] does the Lord G-d ask of
you, etc." The Talmud interpreted the word mah as equivalent
to meah (hundred), i.e. G-d asks that we recite one hundred benedictions.
That verse spoke about a penitent as we know from Breshit Rabbah
21 that the word veatah or atah always refers to a penitent
"and the elders shall give (these 100 benedictions) to the
Father of the virgin-bride, i.e. to G-d, etc., because he (the Israelite)
has slandered the virgin-bride of Israel." This is a reference to
the schinah, the Divine Presence, which includes all of Israel,
the tenth emanation [popularly known as keter. Ed.] or virtue,
called the oral Torah, a concept familiar to students of the Kabbalah.
"and she shall be his wife, and he must not divorce her as long
as he lives."
Although the commandment to study Torah is normally understood to involve
setting aside certain parts of the day and night for study, a person who
has rejected Torah study previously and who has thereby slighted the Torah
must henceforth occupy himself with honoring the Torah all day and all
night, i.e. "he cannot send her away as long as he lives."
Vayikra Rabba 25:1 states that if a person was in the habit of
studying Torah for an hour daily before committing a sin, then part of
his rehabilitation is to study two hours daily. This is applicable to
people whose sins did not consist of insulting the Torah. In order to
make up for the insult to Torah which the person in our paragraph is guilty
of he has to henceforth devote himself exclusively to Torah.
22:20-21 "But if the matter was true, etc." If it turns
out that the Torah which this person studied and which he examined and
found defective, was taught by heretics, such as the Torah taught by Tzadok
and Bayssus, such Torah does not give man strength but exerts a negative
influence on him. G-d commands to stone such a "Torah" to death
until it is completely dead, as per our verse. Whereas the teachers of
this kind of Torah employed words spoken by G-d, i.e. the text of the
Torah, the intention of the teacher teaching it disqualifies it. We have
been taught in Gittin 48 that if a heretic painstakingly writes
an entire Torah scroll it must be burned forthwith, as he did something
despicable, etc. When the Torah concludes our paragraph with the words:
"you shall wipe out evil from your midst," it refers to someone
who deliberately distorts the meaning of the Torah.
22:22 "If a man be found having intercourse with a woman married
to someone else, etc." The verse is best understood with reference
to Sanhedrin 59 that if a Gentile engages in Torah study he is
guilty of the death penalty. The Torah is already betrothed to her husband
the Israelite, she is his bride.
"Both of them shall die etc." both the Gentile studying
the Torah and the "Torah" itself. This means that such "Torah"
instead of spreading its spiritual light will darken the horizon of the
Gentile who studies it. It will not be perceived as possessing life-giving
powers as when it is studied by an Israelite. Torah, which according to
Proverbs 4:22 is a source of life to those
essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter