I’m not sure why, but I’m having trouble focusing on the Torah portion, Ki Tetse, this morning. So I looked back at what I’ve written over the years about it and pretty much combined comments from 2007 and 2009:
The Torah is not simply a set of prescribed beliefs and rituals. It aims
to address every aspect of life, down to where a soldier may appropriately
relieve himself (23:13-15). According to Maimonides, this week’s Torah portion contains 72 positive and negative commands. Some of the laws in the Torah are written as general principles, like “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In Ki Tetse, we deal with the nitty gritty of implementing these principles as specific actions in daily life.
Many of the laws here deal with situations familiar to us, such as divorce, rape, adultery, lending practices, the use of honest weights and measures, returning lost possessions that you find, helping a neighbor in trouble (for us, this is more likely to be someone whose car, rather than ox, broke down), making sure your house doesn’t have any obvious safety hazards, providing for the needy (though usually not literally leaving the leftovers from fields, olive trees, or vineyards), etc. Sometimes, the circumstance is familiar, but we don’t accept the stated consequence, like stoning a rebellious son (yes, I know the rabbis interpreted this in such a way that it’s essentially impossible to actually do it) or forcing a woman to marry her rapist with no possibility of divorce; heinous though that sounds to us, it was intended to provide for the woman.
We’ve heard of some of the practices in a “religious” context (as in, “that’s what really religious people do”), like the fringes (“tzitzit”) attached to the corners of a
four-cornered garment and the prohibition against wearing cloth combining
wool and linen (“shatnes” or “shatnez”). Some laws appear totally out of sync with 21st century life, like levirate marriage. bigamy as accepted practice, and having the priest tend to your skin afflictions. [Actually, I did see a 2009 TV movie called “Loving Leah,” which involves levirate marriage in a modern context. Typical Hallmark Hall of Fame stuff.]
The overall theme is how to incorporate principles of compassion and obedience to the Lord into daily life. But we’re not just adding goodness; we are taking away evil. Five times, we are told that by such-and-such, “you will sweep away evil” (uvi’arta ra). That’s the current JPS translation. An older one is “thou shalt put away evil” and one website on ancient Hebrew translated the root, bet-ayin-resh, as “burn” In modern Hebrew, according to another online dictionary, LingvoSoft, the word means remove, destroy, exterminate, eradicate, or weed. I like “sweep” since it gives you an image of determinedly taking a broom and pushing all the dirt away. “Weed” has too much of a sense of futility associated with it.
The portion concludes with the command to remember Amalek and his attack on the weak rear guard of the Israelites. “Amalek” has become a designation for an enemy of Israel or the Jewish people (cf. Hitler).
The Haftarah is the fifth of the seven Haftarot of Consolation, Isaiah 54:1-10, which is also the first ten verses of the haftarah we’ll read this fall for the portion “Noah.”
Finally, the month of Elul has begun, the month before Rosh Hashanah. The shofar is sounded after morning services (except the Sabbath), and we are supposed to use this month as a time for introspection and reflection in preparation for the High Holy Days.
A young man was hired by a supermarket and reported for his first day of work. The manager greeted him with a warm handshake and a smile, then gave him a broom and said, “Son, your first job will be to sweep out the store.”
“But I’m a college graduate,” the young man replied indignantly.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realise that,” said the manager. “Here, give me the broom — I’ll show you how.”
Lost and Found
A police car pulled up in front of grandma Bessie’s house, and grandpa got out. The polite policeman explained that the elderly gentleman said that he was lost in the park and couldn’t find his way home.
“Morris,” said grandma, “You’ve been going to that park for over 30 years! How come you get lost today?”
Leaning close to grandma, so that the policeman couldn’t hear, grandpa whispered, “I wasn’t lost. I was just too tired to walk home.”
More Lost and Found
Parshas Ki Teitze
by S. Galena Posted: 07-09-2006(Viewed 1413 times)
[you might want to see Deut. 21:10-14, 18-21 first IGP]
Soldier goes to war and takes woman, wakes up “the month after”
Man: Who are you?
Woman: Sinead O’Connor.
Man: Where is our damn son?
Woman: Getting stoned.
When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed
and not a valuable plant is to pull on it.
If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~ Joan
War Bride (from Reader’s Digest)
A German War Bride in the States became a great bore by telling everyone on social occasions of the atrocious nature of the bombing of German cities carried out by the Allies. Her husband was too well-connected and too well-liked for her to be ostracized, so people tried to ignore her when she climbed up on her soapbox. Needless to say, this simply drove her to greater efforts.
One evening she was waxing eloquent when a new woman piped up and agreed that the bombardment of cities was a barbarous practice which should be severely punished! Pleased to find an ally at last, the War Bride turned to the newcomer and said, “Oh! Were you in Germany?”
“No,” replied the newcomer levelly, “I was in London!”