Torah Portion: Ki Tetze (When You Go Out) D’Varim (Deuteronomy) 21-25
HafTorah: Isaiah 54:1-10
What would you say would be the theme of this Torah portion? In my opinion it is describing how we are to live our lives each day and how we are to relate to people. How are we to act toward our spouse, our children or others whom we have dealings with during the day? One of the principles our nation operates on is individualism, looking out for our self, no one can tell me what to do or how to live my life. How does this square with both the New Testament and the Hebrew Scriptures? Not very well. As we read this section of Torah we see over and over that we are part of a community and have responsibility for each other. Our world is to be bigger than just us. So how are we to know what G-d’s Word says? We are to study, really dig it out everyday. By this we know what He says to us about the decisions we make. Even today, and from before the time of Messiah, Jews have been taught how to live by each day reading, memorizing and internalizing G-d’s Word. Music and poetry are two of the most effective ways to get information to remain in our memory. When we are filled with the Word of G-d we are better equipped to meet the world. ( II Timothy 2:15)
Without this equipping what are we in danger of doing? We can easily be misled and fall into sin. For example let’s look at our Torah portion today. In Deut. 21:10-14 a woman is taken captive in battle. The guidelines are set up for this happening as G-d puts a framework around this situation. The man is given 30 days to think this through. Does he really want to take this woman into his family? If so, scripture describes how he must treat her.
Then in Deut. 21:15-17 what might happen if you bring another wife into your home? The unloved wife may feel she is second class, the children may be pitted against each other and any harmony in the house would be lost. We see in Deut. 21:18-21 it speaks of a rebellious son and the consequences of such a son. Do you notice anything in how these scriptures are put together? I believe we can see a progression of one bad decision that brings, in its wake, another and another. It reminds me of our own battles each day. In fact, the beginning of this portion could be read on a deeper level, “When you go out to war each day.” G-d allows us to encounter situations and decisions that offer us the opportunity to grow in our faith, or to be defeated and suffer spiritual set backs in our lives.
We see this everyday around us. People, maybe us, open the door a crack and then a little wider until we find our selves in a place we would have never dreamed we would be. Maybe we allow a hurt into our heart. Instead of dealing with it we nurse it and allow it to grow. Maybe we are angry with G-d for allowing something difficult into our lives. We don’t understand but instead of dealing with it we stop talking to G-d. The door is then open for the world to press in and give us unholy ways to cope with our original hurt. This gradually takes us down a road that brings death not life. If we do not have a firm foundation in G-d’s Word and have been lax in our spiritual life we can all find ourselves in such a place. I pray, for myself and each of you, that we are not duped into taking that first step away from G-d and His holiness. It will affect more than just us but also those who we know and love. This might give us some help in understanding the question of the week.
Read Deut. 24:16 and then Exodus 34:7. How can we explain these seeming contradictions in scripture? It could be explained by looking at Numbers 16 where Korach rebels against Moshe and Aaron. First, what happened to Korach’s sons? They did not follow their father and so were not punished for his sins. Their son’s even went on to write some of the Psalms we still read today. The children are punished if they follow after the example of their father, such as King David. So, the explanation of our seeming contradiction is that we are all responsible for our own sins. We are also responsible for the sins of our children if our example before them led them to sin and we never tried to correct them or teach them and they continued in our bad example.
What we do and the choices we make can live on after us. May we be well versed in G-d’s Word and live the life we are called to live. May our lives be an influence for good to everyone we relate to. May we study and know the way.