This Week’s Torah Portion: Ki Teitzei (Deuteronomy 21:10–25:19)
This week’s Torah Portion is a cacophonous collection of odd laws and commandments with no apparent order or overarching purpose: We begin with rules of war, followed by laws regarding family, animals, and property; Civil and criminal laws are delineated, laws of sexual relationships, interaction with non-Jews, loans, vows, and divorce; various business laws: fair wages, proper weights and measures. It all sounds like a run on sentence that lasts for four chapters in the book of Deuteronomy, and then it ends with a call to Remember Amalek and all that they had struggled against in their journey from slavery to freedom – now ready to enter the Promised Land.
And then we understand, Moses is saying goodbye. The Children of Israel are stepping forward into their own future. And, like a parent sending a child off to College or to War, or to Work in a far away land, Moses is just rattling off all his final instructions on how to live a good and prosperous life and most importantly, how important it is to remember who you are and how you came here.
Ki Tietzei is a parents prayer, scattered perhaps but heartfelt, a blessing of sorts that we might remember how we came to be standing here this week, so many thousands of years after we set forth on this journey. Ki Teitzei is a blessing from Moses and a hope of remembrance. May this be our blessing.
Ki Teitzei Summary:
Moses reviews a wide variety of laws regarding family, animals, and property. (21:10–22:12)
Various civil and criminal laws are delineated, including those regarding sexual relationships, interaction with non-Israelites, loans, vows, and divorce. (22:13–24:5)
Laws of commerce pertaining to loans, fair wages, and proper weights and measures are given. (24:10–25:16)
The parashah concludes with the commandment to remember for all time the most heinous act committed against the Israelites—Amalek’s killing of the old, weak, and infirm after the Israelites left Egypt. (25:17–19)