The Weekly D'rash and the Scriptures that we will be reading this Shabbat for Ki Tetze from Rabbi Howard Silverman:
TORAH ~ Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19
HAFTARAH ~ Isaiah 54:1-10 BRIT CHADASHA ~ Romans 11:25-12:2
This week's Torah portion looks like a series of laws that are disconnected and perhaps random. They include laws pertaining to capturing a woman in battle, the discipline of a wayward son, divorce, kindness toward hired servants, building a fence around a flat roof, and a variety of other situations. What binds them together are the underlying values of due process, morals, and ethics. Remember that last week's portion was about raising up magistrates for different parts of the land to serve as civil leaders to oversee all these situations. The point is that all people were to be treated kindly and neighborly. People were to be treated with due process when punishment was to be served. A foreign woman captured in battle was to be treated kindly. Care was to be given to a neighbor's donkey. One was to treat one's own oxen kindly. If a person was walking through another's vineyard, they were allowed to eat their fill of grapes, but not take a supply of grapes with them. These and other laws demonstrate kindness and dignity. Laws having to do with wayward sons, adultery, and disputes between neighbors were all to be handled with due process. People could not take the law into their own hands. In other words, the underlying values of due process, morals, and ethic were paramount. When we read these texts repeatedly, we begin to view people and situations in the same way as is described in these laws. Some of these laws could not apply today. For example, wayward sons are not brought to the public square and stoned to death! No one in their right mind would advocate for that! However, the mindset of not enabling a wayward son to continue in his evil practices is cultivated, as well as showing kindness to animals and treating people well. We could say that every one of these laws in this portion is in some way related to loving your neighbor as yourself. Several that stand out to me are found in Deut 23:24–25, "When you enter your neighbor's vineyard, then you may eat grapes until you are fully satisfied, but you shall not put any in your basket. When you enter your neighbor's standing grain, then you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not wield a sickle in your neighbor's standing grain". Two food staples at that time were grapes and grain. These verses are saying that property lines are not taken into consideration when a person is hungry and passing through. Eat and be satisfied . . . but do not take advantage! This is an excellent demonstration of sharing one's wealth and goods in a healthy way. It reminds me of Leviticus 25:23, "The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me". Another example is Deuteronomy 25:4, "You shall not muzzle the ox while it is threshing". The text is referring to treating oxen kindly, but in the New Covenant Scriptures, Paul applies this to people—if we are to take care of oxen when they work for us, then certainly we should pay those who serve us! Moreover, in the passages about divorce or a man being convicted of a crime which requires punishment, we read about the process of adjudication and punishment being measured according to the crime. These are the highest values that God desired for Israelite society. Toward the very end of the portion in Deuteronomy 25:16, we have a statement which could serve as a summary statement about the whole portion: "For everyone who does such (opposite) things, everyone who acts unjustly, is an abomination to the LORD your God". A close reading of the prophets tells us that these opposite things are the kinds of sins that caused Israel to go into captivity. A. J. Heschel says it well in The Prophets (p.4), "Indeed, the sort of crimes and even the amount of delinquency that fill the prophets of Israel with dismay do not go beyond that which we regard as normal, as typical ingredients of social dynamics. To us a single act of injustice—cheating in business, exploitation of the poor—is slight; to the prophets a disaster. To us injustice is injurious to the welfare of the people; to the prophets it is a deathblow to existence; to us, an episode; to them a catastrophe, a threat to the world". Remember that the prophets are informed by the Torah. They are informed by passages such as we find in this week's Torah portion. As we approach the High Holy Days may we meditate on these truths. May we frame our worldview, our opinions, and our actions on the values of due process, ethics, and morals—rather than on what is in it for me. May we no longer walk in the futility of darkness but rather in the light of the Messiah! Shabbat Shalom! Rabbi Howard TORAH READING: DEUTERONOMY 21:10 – 25:19 21:10 "When you go out to battle against your enemies, and the L-RD your G-d delivers them into your hands and you take them away captive, 11 and see among the captives a beautiful woman, and have a desire for her and would take her as a wife for yourself, 12 then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and trim her nails. 13 "She shall also remove the clothes of her captivity and shall remain in your house, and mourn her father and mother a full month; and after that you may go in to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. 14 "It shall be, if you are not pleased with her, then you shall let her go wherever she wishes; but you shall certainly not sell her for money, you shall not mistreat her, because you have humbled her. 15 "If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him sons, if the firstborn son belongs to the unloved, 16 then it shall be in the day he wills what he has to his sons, he cannot make the son of the loved the firstborn before the son of the unloved, who is the firstborn. 17 "But he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; to him belongs the right of the firstborn. 18 "If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, 19 then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. 20 "They shall say to the elders of his city, 'This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.' 21 "Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear. 22 "If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of G-d), so that you do not defile your land which the L-RD your G-d gives you as an inheritance. 22:1 "You shall not see your countryman's ox or his sheep straying away, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly bring them back to your countryman. 2 "If your countryman is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall remain with you until your countryman looks for it; then you shall restore it to him. 3 "Thus you shall do with his donkey, and you shall do the same with his garment, and you shall do likewise with anything lost by your countryman, which he has lost and you have found. You are not allowed to neglect them. 4 "You shall not see your countryman's donkey or his ox fallen down on the way, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly help him to raise them up. 5 "A woman shall not wear man's clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman's clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the L-RD your G-d. 6 "If you happen to come upon a bird's nest along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; 7 you shall certainly let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, in order that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days. 8 "When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, so that you will not bring bloodguilt on your house if anyone falls from it. 9 "You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, or all the produce of the seed which you have sown and the increase of the vineyard will become defiled. 10 "You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together. 11 "You shall not wear a material mixed of wool and linen together. 12 "You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself. 13 "If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then turns against her, 14 and charges her with shameful deeds and publicly defames her, and says, 'I took this woman, but when I came near her, I did not find her a virgin,' 15 then the girl's father and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of the girl's virginity to the elders of the city at the gate. 16 "The girl's father shall say to the elders, 'I gave my daughter to this man for a wife, but he turned against her; 17 and behold, he has charged her with shameful deeds, saying, "I did not find your daughter a virgin." But this is the evidence of my daughter's virginity.' And they shall spread the garment before the elders of the city. 18 "So the elders of that city shall take the man and chastise him, 19 and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give it to the girl's father, because he publicly defamed a virgin of Israel. And she shall remain his wife; he cannot divorce her all his days. 20 "But if this charge is true, that the girl was not found a virgin, 21 then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her father's house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you. 22 "If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel. 23 "If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor's wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you. 25 "But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die. 26 "But you shall do nothing to the girl; there is no sin in the girl worthy of death, for just as a man rises against his neighbor and murders him, so is this case. 27 "When he found her in the field, the engaged girl cried out, but there was no one to save her. 28 "If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days. 30 "A man shall not take his father's wife so that he will not uncover his father's skirt. 23:1 "No one who is emasculated or has his male organ cut off shall enter the assembly of the L-RD. 2 "No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the L-RD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the L-RD. 3 "No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the L-RD; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the L-RD, 4 because they did not meet you with food and water on the way when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. 5 "Nevertheless, the L-RD your G-d was not willing to listen to Balaam, but the L-RD your G-d turned the curse into a blessing for you because the L-RD your G-d loves you. 6 "You shall never seek their peace or their prosperity all your days. 7 "You shall not detest an Edomite, for he is your brother; you shall not detest an Egyptian, because you were an alien in his land. 8 "The sons of the third generation who are born to them may enter the assembly of the L-RD. 9 "When you go out as an army against your enemies, you shall keep yourself from every evil thing. 10 "If there is among you any man who is unclean because of a nocturnal emission, then he must go outside the camp; he may not reenter the camp. 11 "But it shall be when evening approaches, he shall bathe himself with water, and at sundown he may reenter the camp. 12 "You shall also have a place outside the camp and go out there, 13 and you shall have a spade among your tools, and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn to cover up your excrement. 14 "Since the L-RD your G-d walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy; and He must not see anything indecent among you or He will turn away from you. 15 "You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. 16 "He shall live with you in your midst, in the place which he shall choose in one of your towns where it pleases him; you shall not mistreat him. 17 "None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a cult prostitute. 18 "You shall not bring the hire of a harlot or the wages of a dog into the house of the L-RD your G-d for any votive offering, for both of these are an abomination to the L-RD your G-d. 19 "You shall not charge interest to your countrymen: interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned at interest. 20 "You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your countrymen you shall not charge interest, so that the L-RD your G-d may bless you in all that you undertake in the land which you are about to enter to possess. 21 "When you make a vow to the L-RD your G-d, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the L-RD your G-d will surely require it of you. 22 "However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you. 23 "You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to the L-RD your G-d, what you have promised. 24 "When you enter your neighbor's vineyard, then you may eat grapes until you are fully satisfied, but you shall not put any in your basket. 25 "When you enter your neighbor's standing grain, then you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not wield a sickle in your neighbor's standing grain. 24:1 "When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house, 2 and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man's wife, 3 and if the latter husband turns against her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her to be his wife, 4 then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the L-RD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the L-RD your G-d gives you as an inheritance. 5 "When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out with the army nor be charged with any duty; he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken. 6 "No one shall take a handmill or an upper millstone in pledge, for he would be taking a life in pledge. 7 "If a man is caught kidnapping any of his countrymen of the sons of Israel, and he deals with him violently or sells him, then that thief shall die; so you shall purge the evil from among you. 8 "Be careful against an infection of leprosy, that you diligently observe and do according to all that the Levitical priests teach you; as I have commanded them, so you shall be careful to do. 9 "Remember what the L-RD your G-d did to Miriam on the way as you came out of Egypt. 10 "When you make your neighbor a loan of any sort, you shall not enter his house to take his pledge. 11 "You shall remain outside, and the man to whom you make the loan shall bring the pledge out to you. 12 "If he is a poor man, you shall not sleep with his pledge. 13 "When the sun goes down you shall surely return the pledge to him, that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you; and it will be righteousness for you before the L-RD your G-d. 14 "You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your countrymen or one of your aliens who is in your land in your towns. 15 "You shall give him his wages on his day before the sun sets, for he is poor and sets his heart on it; so that he will not cry against you to the L-RD and it become sin in you. 16 "Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin. 17 "You shall not pervert the justice due an alien or an orphan, nor take a widow's garment in pledge. 18 "But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and that the L-RD your G-d redeemed you from there; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing. 19 "When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the L-RD your G-d may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 "When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow. 21 "When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not go over it again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow. 22 "You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing. 25:1 "If there is a dispute between men and they go to court, and the judges decide their case, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked, 2 then it shall be if the wicked man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall then make him lie down and be beaten in his presence with the number of stripes according to his guilt. 3 "He may beat him forty times but no more, so that he does not beat him with many more stripes than these and your brother is not degraded in your eyes. 4 "You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing. 5 "When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband's brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her. 6 "It shall be that the firstborn whom she bears shall assume the name of his dead brother, so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel. 7 "But if the man does not desire to take his brother's wife, then his brother's wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, 'My husband's brother refuses to establish a name for his brother in Israel; he is not willing to perform the duty of a husband's brother to me.' 8 "Then the elders of his city shall summon him and speak to him. And if he persists and says, 'I do not desire to take her,' 9 then his brother's wife shall come to him in the sight of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face; and she shall declare, 'Thus it is done to the man who does not build up his brother's house.' 10 "In Israel his name shall be called, 'The house of him whose sandal is removed.' 11 "If two men, a man and his countryman, are struggling together, and the wife of one comes near to deliver her husband from the hand of the one who is striking him, and puts out her hand and seizes his genitals, 12 then you shall cut off her hand; you shall not show pity. 13 "You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. 14 "You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. 15 "You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the L-RD your G-d gives you. 16 "For everyone who does these things, everyone who acts unjustly is an abomination to the L-RD your G-d. 17 "Remember what Amalek did to you along the way when you came out from Egypt, 18 how he met you along the way and attacked among you all the stragglers at your rear when you were faint and weary; and he did not fear G-d. 19 "Therefore it shall come about when the L-RD your G-d has given you rest from all your surrounding enemies, in the land which the L-RD your G-d gives you as an inheritance to possess, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you must not forget. HAFTARAH READING: ISAIAH 54:1-10 54:1 "Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child; Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed; For the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous Than the sons of the married woman," says the L-RD. 2 "Enlarge the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; Lengthen your cords And strengthen your pegs. 3 "For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left. And your descendants will possess nations And will resettle the desolate cities. 4 "Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; But you will forget the shame of your youth, And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. 5 "For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the L-RD of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the G-d of all the earth. 6 "For the L-RD has called you, Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, Even like a wife of one's youth when she is rejected," Says your G-d. 7 "For a brief moment I forsook you, But with great compassion I will gather you. 8 "In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, But with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you," Says the L-RD your Redeemer. 9 "For this is like the days of Noah to Me, When I swore that the waters of Noah Would not flood the earth again; So I have sworn that I will not be angry with you Nor will I rebuke you. 10 "For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken," Says the L-RD who has compassion on you. B’RIT CHADASHAH READING: ROMANS 11:25-12:2 11:25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.” 27 “THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS.” 28 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, so these also now have been disobedient, 31 that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. 32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all. 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? 35 Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.