Torah Portion: Ki Tetze (When You Go Out) Devarim (Deuteronomy) 21-25
HafTorah: Isaiah 54:1-10
What would you say the over-riding theme of this Torah portion is? It is our responsibility to reach outside ourselves. Do we see this carried on in the New Testament? Look at Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31. In both segments of the Bible we see this over arching theme of helping others and doing the right thing for our fellowman. In this Torah portion we see this worked out in each chapter, whether it is in the respect of women, helping out when a man’s donkey has fallen, respect for a mother bird on a nest, interest not charged, or leaving food in your field for the poor. Over and over again we see G-d’s call for us to be involved with people. In the New Testament Matthew 5:42 talks about lending or giving to people in need and of course Matthew 25:35-40 speaks of how we are specifically called to minister to the Jewish people. Luke 3:10-11 talks about sharing with the poor. James 2:14-17 and James 1:17 says it is the very definition of religion.
I wanted to remind us individually and as a group, we have a special calling. We see it in this Torah portion and in the New Testament that we are to be involved with the world and we are to let our light shine. It is a principle of our faith.
In the first verse of this Torah we are told, “When you go out to war.” Let us take a moment and consider this spiritually. When do we go out to war? Everyday. This battle takes place within us. It is the battle between the realm of the spirit and that of our flesh or our own desires, attitudes and needs. Our goal in this war is to be able to call on the spirit to assist us in this battle.
When we look at the Torah and the issue between Israel and Amalek we can get an idea of this problem and how to overcome in our battle. Fist we look back at Exodus 17:1-8 and we see where Amalek attacked Israel at Rephadim soon after they had passed through the water. Another important point in these verses is the statement by Israel, “Is G-d among us or not.” Then in today’s portion we read where Moses tells the people to remember what Amalek did to them on the road. “Don’t forget” but at the same time He tells them to wipe out the memory of Amalek from under the heavens.
So lets us see what we can put together from these two scriptures. First, in Shemot, remember all the wonderful things G-d had done for the people and then soon after we read, “Is G-d among us or not?” Doubt had entered into their minds. This is not doubt based on any fact, not doubt based on their own motives or desires. No this was an irrational doubt, a doubt that overrode everything else. This doubt was what made them and sometimes us, open to an attack by Amalek. Remember the verb for what Amalek did to them on the road (Deut. 25:17) is the same word meaning cold or ice and so here we see Amalek cooled down their passion for G-d. Their faith began to waver. It is like this, maybe you have a really high spiritual experience and you go to everyone to tell them about it. Then you tell someone and their response is, “so what?” What can that do for your feelings toward what G-d had just done in your life? It can cool it off and maybe even cause you to begin to wonder if it really was such a big deal. You may begin to slide back to where you were or worse. This is where we must remember, like Moses tells the people here to remember.
Our spirit must lead us in this battle. What we know must be able to stand against how we feel. This is true in everything we encounter with doubt. Our battle against the cooling off of Amalek goes on everyday when we go out to war. Our mind must rule over our heart. As long as we are tossed about by doubt we are open to losing the war. Remembering is our weapon against unfounded doubt. Our faith must be able to stand up to whatever comes. If not, doubt will rule us. When doubt rules we forget about everything else. We are consumed by our own fears and are not able to be the light that we spoke about in the beginning of this study. So, let us not doubt the Father’s love and provision. And then we can be of use in our Father’s kingdom.