Weekly Reading Insights: Ki Tetsei 5764



Overview of the Weekly Reading: Ki Tetsei

To be read on 11 Elul 5764 (Aug. 28)

Torah:Deut. 21:10-25:18
Haftorah: Isaiah 54:1-10 (5th of the Seven Haftorahs of Consolation)

Ki Tetsei is the 6th Reading out of 11 in Deuteronomy and 49th overall, and 21st out of 54 in overall length.

Pirkei Avot: Chapter Two

Much of Ki Tetsei 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 deduct 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 allowed to be 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.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:49-64/Ki Tetsei )

A person living away from his place is called a stranger, and even more so those souls that leave this world naked [of Torah and mitzvot] and come to this [physical] world in order to fix this [and through the merit of the Torah they learn and mitzvot they perform, earn "clothes" enabling them to enter Garden of Eden].

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:49-64/Ki Tetsei )

The ring signifies her yesod, which encompasses and contains the light within her.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:49-64/Ki Tetsei )

Immediately Moses had heard all this he understood that all the exiles the Jewish people would have to suffer in the course of their history can be traced back to the original sin committed by Adam.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated woman as the first born, and give him a double portion." (Deut. 21:17)

The "son of the beloved" refers to the first Tablets, given when the Jews were righteous. The "son of the hated woman" alludes to the second Tablets, which were given after the Jews sinned but returned to G-d. As we see here, the penitent receives "a double portion" of reward. Indeed, the first Tablets contained only the Ten Commandments, whereas the second set were accompanied by Jewish laws and the Torah's allegorical portions.

(Ohr HaTorah) (from L'chaim #533)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:49-64/Ki Tetsei )

War: What It's Good For

The opening words, "When you go out to war against your enemies" (Deut. 21:10), can be interpreted to refer to going to an individual's war against his negative inclinations. The Baal HaTurim connects this phrase with the final word in last week's reading, which was G-d's name, so that we read the verse, "G-d - when You go out to war against Your enemies". This tells us that when we go out to war, when we are ready to challenge our negative personal traits, the Almighty goes with us to help us.

Chassidut explains that the "war" we face daily is during prayer, which is called "purification through war". This is an obligatory war in which the G-dly soul toils to control and usurp the body's animalistic tendencies. The war is prefaced by "going out" to the synagogue where a Jew's prayers are always heard and where G-d is found, as it says, "Where is He present? In the synagogues" (Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot 85).

Another explanation of this verse is that there are two kinds of wars: mandatory and optional. Each Jew is obliged to war in order to illuminate his private domain, whereas war in the public domain is a matter of choice. Nevertheless, the public domain receives the same guarantee as the private one that "G-d will give it into your hands", as the verse concludes.

If the Almighty is there to help us, why is it always so difficult? When asked by his Chassidim, "Rebbe, how do we protect ourselves from our evil inclinations chasing us all the time?", Rebbe Naftali of Ropshitz would say, "I guarantee you, it will not chase after you if you do not chase after it!"

The portion ends with one of the Six Daily Remembrances, "Remember what Amalek did to you on the way out of Egypt" (Deut. 25:17). Why does the verse use the singular "you" rather than the plural? Because Amalek, our eternal enemies, can only attack us when we isolate ourselves and are not close together with the community.

The month of Elul is the month in which we review what happened to us in the last year and try to fix the areas where we come up short. Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch wrote that in Elul the gates of Heaven are open! Which gates? The Gates of Compassion which open into the Chamber of Merit. For whom are they opened? For all of our brethren, the Jewish people. We make an honest soul-accounting of our divine service - the Torah we learned and which we taught to our children as well as the efforts we made to strengthen the Jewish community.

May our accountings lead us to true return to G-d, and, as a result, may we merit to see G-dliness revealed throughout the world with the final redemption.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter

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