Summary Of Parshas Ki Seitzei
In the course of history mankind’s most ignoble times have been during war and conflict. It is almost as if we suspend our humanity and regress to our lowest common denominator; that of the wild beast. Murder, rape, and plunder accompany the soldier as he is given license to destroy that which should be most precious. It confirms, as the Torah teaches, that all morals and values rest upon the sanctity of human life. Devalue the pricelessness of life, and you undermine the foundation upon which all values and morals rest. The private domain of person and property then becomes subject to the unleashed amorality of the human animal.
Following the instructions at the end of last weeks Parsha as to how the Jew is to wage war, Moshe, in Parshas Ki Seitsei, presented 74 Mitzvos which highlight the value that the Torah places on the private domain of person and property.
1st Aliya: In an illuminating sequence of emotional and legal circumstances,Moshe forewarned us of the moral and familial dangers of warfare. A soldier brings home a non-Jewish female captive. Disregarding rational and obvious differences, he marries her, has his 1st son with her, and eventually resents the discord he has fostered upon himself, his “captive wife”, and his extended family. Attempting to deny his responsibility in the “resentment turned to hatred” breaking apart his family, he attempts to deny his 1st born son’s rights. This is illegal.
This can Produce the “Rebellious Son”; a child who does not value the private rights of person or property and will eventually be executed for his crimes against society. It’s a tragedy that begs us to consider the long range consequences of our actions before giving legal license to the wild beast within each of us.
2nd Aliya: The laws regarding: hanging and burial; returning lost articles; the fallen animal; transvestitism; and the birds nest are detailed.
3rd Aliya: The laws regarding: guard rails; mixed agriculture; forbidden combinations; Tzitzit; the defamed wife; if the accusations against the wife are true; the penalty for adultery; the rape of a betrothed or unmarried girl; the prohibition against marrying a father’s wife; the Mamzer; and the prohibition against marrying an Ammonite or Moabite are detailed.
4th Aliya: The laws regarding: marriage to Edomites or Egyptians; the sanctity of the army camp; sheltering run away slaves; prostitution; deducted interest; and keeping vows are commanded.
5th and 6th Aliyot:The laws regarding: workers eating while they harvest;divorce and remarriage; military exemptions for a new husband; taking a millstone as security for a loan; the punishment for kidnapping; leprosy; general laws regarding security for loans, are detailed.
7th Aliya: The laws regarding paying wages on time; the testimony of close relatives; concern for the widowed and orphaned; forgotten sheaves of grain; leftover fruit from the harvest; Malkos – flogging; the childless sister-in- law; the assailant and the wife who comes to the rescue; honest weights and measures; and remembering Amalek are commanded.
Short Vort’s On The Parsha:
Credit To Torah.org
One of the mitzvot in this week’s parashah is the mitzvah of returning a lost object. The Torah instructs us: “You shall not see the ox of your brother or his sheep or goat cast off and hide yourself from them; you shall surely return them to your brother . . . you may not [literally: ‘You will be unable’] to hide yourself.” (Devarim 21:22-23)
R’ Avraham Shaag z”l (1801-1876; Hungary and Eretz Yisrael) asks why these verses repeat themselves. What is added by the last phrase, “You may not hide yourself”?
He explains: Even a person who was born with negative character traits can acquire good traits in their place. This is done by behaving contrary to one’s natural tendencies. For example, if one is disposed to hate another person, one can conquer those feelings by going out of his way to do kindness for that person.
Chazal learn from the phrase, “You shall surely return them to your brother,” that you must return a lost object even if its owner has already lost it, and you have already returned it, 100 times. If you perform this act of kindness repeatedly, says R’ Shaag, “You will be unable to hide yourself”; it will become natural for you to do kindness for the person that you once hated.
R’ Shaag adds: Particularly in this month of Elul, when the shofar is blown to awaken us to return to Hashem, we must remove the hatred of others from our hearts, stop lording over others, eradicate lashon hara, and cease other infractions that we commit against our fellows. Maybe, just maybe, by the time Yom Kippur has passed, the good behavior that we adopt during Elul will have become second nature. (Derashot Ha’Rash Vol. I, No. 25)
“Beware of a tzara’at affliction . . .” (24:8)
R’ Yisrael Isser of Ponovezh z”l (Lithuania; mid-19th century) writes: One of the forms of tzara’at is manifested by skin that appears healthy on the surface, though underneath the area is full of pus. The Torah (Vayikra 13:11) says of a person who has such a blemish, “The kohen shall declare him contaminated.” This teaches that a person who acts as if his motivations are pure, though in reality they are not, is tamei. For example, when one is offended and he reacts negatively, he may say, “I am not angry for my honor, but rather for the honor of the Torah that I have studied. Of course, I am not so vain as to think that I am a Torah scholar, but compared to the person who offended me . . .”
How can a person who lashes out “for the Torah’s honor” measure whether his motivations are pure? Let him examine how he reacts when he sees a Torah scholar other than himself being offended. Also, how does he react when he sees a volume of a Torah work being treated disrespectfully? Finally, does this person who considers himself a minor Torah scholar defame the honor of the Torah by acting inappropriately himself? (Menuchah U’kedushah p.83)
“When you come into the vineyard of your fellow, you may eat grapes as is your desire, to your fill, but you may not put into your vessel.” (23:25)
On the level of pshat, this verse is referring to a hired-hand’s to eat from the crops of a field while he is harvesting them; however, he has no right to take produce home.
R’ Meir Horowitz z”l (1819-1877; Dzikover Rebbe) offers an allegorical explanation of this pasuk, as follows: This verse is teaching that one should not become depressed when he returns home from visiting a tzaddik and realizes that his behavior is essentially the same as it was before. Indeed, such depression is a scheme of the yetzer hara, intended to destroy whatever gains the person did achieve and to discourage him from visiting tzaddikim in the future. In reality, even the temporary gains that one experiences while he is in the presence of the tzaddik are worthwhile.
Says our verse: A tzaddik is called a “vineyard” (see Yeshayah 5:7). When you come to a tzaddik, says the verse, eat your fill, even though you know you will not take anything home, for even that short-term gain is worthwhile. (Imrei Noam)
The Gemara states that Hashem gave Noach and his descendants only seven commandments and the smallest infraction of one of those laws incurs the death penalty. Bnei Yisrael, by contrast, were given 613 mitzvot, most of which carry punishments less severe than death. Furthermore, Hashem has given us a great gift: the possibility of teshuvah / repentance.
R’ Moshe Mi’Tirani (the Mabit; 16th century) writes that the possibility of teshuvah exists precisely because we have so many mitzvot; it is nearly impossible for anyone to go through life without violating a commandment now and then. This is, in fact, alluded to by the many verses (e.g. Devarim 30:2; Hoshea 14:20) which mention the name “Elokim,” denoting G-d’s Attribute of Justice, in connection with Teshuvah. Teshuvah was created because the fact that we have so many laws would likely result in strict justice being imposed against us.
However, the Torah warns (Devarim 30:2), “You will return to Hashem Elokim and heed His voice.” Do not use the difficulty of mitzvah observance as an excuse. If you want your Teshuvah to “count” you must sincerely heed Hashem’s word and do your best to observe the mitzvot in the future. In fact, the Gemara teaches that a person who tells himself, “I can sin, for G-d will forgive me,” will not be forgiven. (Bet Elokim, Sha’ar Ha’Teshuvah ch.1)
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