Torah Portion: Ki Titze (When You Go Ou) Devarim (Deut.) 21:10-25:19
HafTorah: Isaiah 54:1-10
NT Matt. 5:31-32; 19:3-12; 22:23-32 Mark 10:2-12; 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-38, I Cor 9:3-18; Gal. 3:9-14.
This Torah section takes place on the east bank of the Jordan River before the people cross over. Moses reiterates the commandments to a new generation. More than 70 of the 613 commandments are covered in this section, several of which we see expounded on in the New Testament.
I would like to cover some of these commandments to see what we can find that might apply to us on a spiritual level. To begin with, I would like to look at Devarim 22:8. Here we see when a person built a house they had to be sure to put a guardrail around the roof. Even today many houses have a flat roof where people sit out on cool evenings to relax. So practically we can see why a guardrail would be important. Now to a more spiritual level.
I read something this week that helped me see deeper into this commandment. What is our major focus in our spiritual life? What does the world see? I believe our major motivation everyday should be not focused on outreach (don’t panic and run for the door). I think our major focus should be to passionately love G-d. For if we do that then we naturally have a love for people and evangelism takes care of itself. People must be able to see our love of the Father and how it moves us in everything we do, in how we live.
How does all this apply to guard rails on a roof? The roof is always the highest part of a house. We could compare it to our head or mind. As we passionately love G-d, sometimes it can lead us to begin to think of ourselves as a little better than the “uninformed.” Ego can slip in and our drive can become a passion to appear just a step above everyone else, to get our name out there, to look, to appear, to sound better than others.
Now we might say so what as long as the message gets out, good is being done. The last part of 22:8 speaks to this, “that you not bring guilt of bloodshed on your household if anyone falls from it.” Words spoken through our ego may be the right words but they don’t bring life, lasting life, because it is our words, motivated by our needs, not the passionate love o G-d. They are words that come from our head and not our hearts. May we each love G-d passionately and relate to those people He brings into our lives with that same love of G-d.
Next, I want us to look at two commandments here and see if one helps us to understand on a deeper level the other. First, Devarim 22:6-7 talks about not taking a mother bird with her young but letting her go. When we do this it comes with the promise of long life. The point being we should be merciful and compassionate toward the least of G-d’s creation as He is to us. As we live our lives in this way we will be rewarded with long life. There is a story in the Talmud about a Rabbi whose young son climbed a tree, shooed the mother bird off the nest, and took the little ones. On his way down he fell and died. The rabbi knowing this verse, fell to his knees and cried out to G-d, “How did it go well with my son, in what way were his days prolonged?” As a result of this he walked away from G-d and became a heretic. So how do we reconcile such a thing? How could it be?
Now look at Devarim 24:14-15 where it says to pay a daily worker his wages each day. In G-d’s kingdom are we day laborers? Or are we contract workers who are paid at the end of the job. Maybe the rabbi was looking at life as a day to day thing with G-d. Maybe we should always see ourselves as contract workers as Shaul says in the New Testament in II Tim. 4:6-8 our reward is in the world to come. Our responsibility, our faith calls on us to live our life daily as the L-rd leads us and not to be concerned about the reward. They will take care of themselves. So do not be discouraged when life seems to not be fair. Our task, our call is to live each day using those spiritual gifts that the Father has given us in a flesh and blood world. When the race is over the reward will be there. May He bless each of you as you build those guardrails around your roof and run the race.