Ki Teitzei

When You Go Out (to Battle)
Deuteronomy 21:10–25:19
Translation from The Torah: A Modern Commentary (CCAR Press)
ki teizei/ judgement

21:10] When you [an Israelite warrior] take the field against your enemies, and the Eternal your God delivers them into your power and you take some of them captive, 11] and you see among the captives a beautiful woman and you desire her and would take her to wife, 12] you shall bring her into your house, and she shall trim her hair, pare her nails, 13] and discard her captive’s garb. She shall spend a month’s time in your house lamenting her father and mother; after that you may come to her and thus become her husband, and she shall be your wife. 14] Then, should you no longer want her, you must release her outright. You must not sell her for money: since you had your will of her, you must not enslave her.

15] If a householder has two wives, one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him sons, but the first-born is the son of the unloved one— 16] when he wills his property to his sons, he may not treat as first-born the son of the loved one in disregard of the son of the unloved one who is older. 17] Instead, he must accept the first-born, the son of the unloved one, and allot to him a double portion of all he possesses; since he is the first fruit of his vigor, the birthright is his due.

18] If a householder has a wayward and defiant son, who does not heed his father or mother and does not obey them even after they discipline him, 19] his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his town at the public place of his community. 20] They shall say to the elders of his town, “This son of ours is disloyal and defiant; he does not heed us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21] Thereupon his town’s council shall stone him to death. Thus you will sweep out evil from your midst: all Israel will hear and be afraid.

22] If a party is guilty of a capital offense and is put to death, and you impale the body on a stake, 23] you must not let the corpse remain on the stake overnight, but must bury it the same day. For an impaled body is an affront to God: you shall not defile the land that the Eternal your God is giving you to possess.

22:1] If you see your fellow Israelite’s ox or sheep gone astray, do not ignore it; you must take it back to your peer. 2] If your fellow Israelite does not live near you or you do not know who [the owner] is, you shall bring it home and it shall remain with you until your peer claims it; then you shall give it back. 3] You shall do the same with that person’s ass; you shall do the same with that person’s garment; and so too shall you do with anything that your fellow Israelite loses and you find: you must not remain indifferent.

4] If you see your fellow Israelite’s ass or ox fallen on the road, do not ignore it; you must raise it together.

5] A woman must not put on man’s apparel, nor shall a man wear woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is abhorrent to the Eternal your God.

6] If, along the road, you chance upon a bird’s nest, in any tree or on the ground, with fledglings or eggs and the mother sitting over the fledglings or on the eggs, do not take the mother together with her young. 7] Let the mother go, and take only the young, in order that you may fare well and have a long life.

8] When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, so that you do not bring bloodguilt on your house if anyone should fall from it.

9] You shall not sow your vineyard with a second kind of seed, else the crop—from the seed you have sown—and the yield of the vineyard may not be used. 10] You shall not plow with an ox and an ass together. 11] You shall not wear cloth combining wool and linen.

12] You shall make tassels on the four corners of the garment with which you cover yourself.

13] A householder marries a woman and cohabits with her. Then he takes an aversion to her 14] and makes up charges against her and defames her, saying, “This is the party I married; but when I approached her, I found that she was not a virgin.” 15] In such a case, the girl’s father and mother shall produce the evidence of the girl’s virginity before the elders of the town at the gate. 16] And the girl’s father shall say to the elders, “To this party I gave my own daughter to wife, but he has taken an aversion to her; 17] so he has made up charges, saying, ‘I did not find your daughter a virgin.’ But here is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity!” And they shall spread out the cloth before the elders of the town. 18] The elders of that town shall then take that party and flog him, 19] and they shall fine him a hundred [shekels of] silver and give it to the girl’s father; for [that householder] has defamed a virgin in Israel. Moreover, she shall remain his wife; he shall never have the right to divorce her.

20] But if the charge proves true, the girl was found not to have been a virgin, 21] then the girl shall be brought out to the entrance of her father’s house, and her town’s council shall stone her to death; for she did a shameful thing in Israel, committing fornication while under her father’s authority. Thus you will sweep away evil from your midst.

22] If a man is found lying with another man’s wife, both of them—the man and the woman with whom he lay—shall die. Thus you will sweep away evil from Israel.

23] In the case of a virgin who is engaged to a man—if a man comes upon her in town and lies with her, 24] you shall take the two of them out to the gate of that town and stone them to death: the girl because she did not cry for help in the town, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. Thus you will sweep away evil from your midst. 25] But if the man comes upon the engaged girl in the open country, and the man lies with her by force, only the man who lay with her shall die, 26] but you shall do nothing to the girl. The girl did not incur the death penalty, for this case is like that of one party attacking and murdering another. 27] He came upon her in the open; though the engaged girl cried for help, there was no one to save her.

28] If a man comes upon a virgin who is not engaged and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are discovered, 29] the party who lay with her shall pay the girl’s father fifty [shekels of] silver, and she shall be his wife. Because he has violated her, he can never have the right to divorce her.

23:1] No householder shall marry his father’s former wife, so as to remove his father’s garment.

2] No man whose testes are crushed or whose member is cut off shall be admitted into the congregation of the Eternal.

3] No one misbegotten shall be admitted into the congregation of the Eternal; no descendant of such, even in the tenth generation, shall be admitted into the congregation of the Eternal.

4] No Ammonite or Moabite shall be admitted into the congregation of the Eternal; no descendants of such, even in the tenth generation, shall ever be admitted into the congregation of the Eternal, 5] because they did not meet you with food and water on your journey after you left Egypt, and because they hired Balaam son of Beor, from Pethor of Aram-naharaim, to curse you.— 6] But the Eternal your God refused to heed Balaam; instead, the Eternal your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, for the Eternal your God loves you.— 7] You shall never concern yourself with their welfare or benefit as long as you live.

8] You shall not abhor an Edomite, for such is your kin. You shall not abhor an Egyptian, for you were a stranger in that land. 9] Children born to them may be admitted into the congregation of the Eternal in the third generation.

10] When you [men] go out as a troop against your enemies, be on your guard against anything untoward. 11] If anyone among you has been rendered impure by a nocturnal emission, he must leave the camp, and he must not reenter the camp. 12] Toward evening he shall bathe in water, and at sundown he may reenter the camp. 13] Further, there shall be an area for you outside the camp, where you may relieve yourself. 14] With your gear you shall have a spike, and when you have squatted you shall dig a hole with it and cover up your excrement. 15] Since the Eternal your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you, let your camp be holy; let [God] not find anything unseemly among you and turn away from you.

16] You shall not turn over to the master a slave who seeks refuge with you from that master. 17] Such individuals shall live with you in any place they may choose among the settlements in your midst, wherever they please; you must not ill-treat them.

18] No Israelite woman shall be a prostitute, nor shall any Israelite man be a prostitute. 19] You shall not bring the fee of a whore or the pay of a dog into the house of the Eternal your God in fulfillment of any vow, for both are abhorrent to the Eternal your God.

20] You shall not deduct interest from loans to your fellow Israelites, whether in money or food or anything else that can be deducted as interest; 21] but you may deduct interest from loans to foreigners. Do not deduct interest from loans to your fellow Israelites, so that the Eternal your God may bless you in all your undertakings in the land that you are about to enter and possess.

22] When you make a vow to the Eternal your God, do not put off fulfilling it, for the Eternal your God will require it of you, and you will have incurred guilt; 23] whereas you incur no guilt if you refrain from vowing. 24] You must fulfill what has crossed your lips and perform what you have voluntarily vowed to the Eternal your God, having made the promise with your own mouth.

25] When you enter a fellow [Israelite]’s vineyard, you may eat as many grapes as you want, until you are full, but you must not put any in your vessel. 26] When you enter a fellow [Israelite]’s field of standing grain, you may pluck ears with your hand; but you must not put a sickle to your neighbor’s grain.

24:1] A householder takes a wife and becomes her husband. She fails to please him because he finds something obnoxious about her, and he writes her a bill of divorcement, hands it to her, and sends her away from his house; 2] she leaves his household and becomes the wife of another man; 3] then this latter man rejects her, writes her a bill of divorcement, hands it to her, and sends her away from his house; or the man who married her last dies. 4] Then the first husband who divorced her shall not take her to wife again, since she has been defiled—for that would be abhorrent to the Eternal. You must not bring sin upon the land that the Eternal your God is giving you as a heritage.

5] When a householder has taken a bride, he shall not go out with the army or be assigned to it for any purpose; he shall be exempt one year for the sake of his household, to give happiness to the woman he has married.

6] A handmill or an upper millstone shall not be taken in pawn, for that would be taking someone’s life in pawn.

7] If a party is found to have kidnapped—and then enslaved or sold—a fellow Israelite, that kidnapper shall die; thus you will sweep out evil from your midst.

8] In cases of a skin affection be most careful to do exactly as the levitical priests instruct you. Take care to do as I have commanded them. 9] Remember what the Eternal your God did to Miriam on the journey after you left Egypt.

10] When you make a loan of any sort to your compatriot, you must not enter the house to seize the pledge. 11] You must remain outside, while the party to whom you made the loan brings the pledge out to you. 12] If the party is needy, you shall not go to sleep in that pledge; 13] you must return the pledge at sundown, that its owner may sleep in the cloth and bless you; and it will be to your merit before the Eternal your God.

14] You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer, whether a fellow Israelite or a stranger in one of the communities of your land. 15] You must pay out the wages due on the same day, before the sun sets, for the worker is needy and urgently depends on it; else a cry to the Eternal will be issued against you and you will incur guilt.

16] Parents shall not be put to death for children, nor children be put to death for parents: they shall each be put to death only for their own crime.

17] You shall not subvert the rights of the stranger or the fatherless; you shall not take a widow’s garment in pawn. 18] Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and that the Eternal your God redeemed you from there; therefore do I enjoin you to observe this commandment.

19] When you reap the harvest in your field and overlook a sheaf in the field, do not turn back to get it; it shall go to the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow—in order that the Eternal your God may bless you in all your undertakings.

20] When you beat down the fruit of your olive trees, do not go over them again; that shall go to the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. 21] When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, do not pick it over again; that shall go to the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. 22] Always remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore do I enjoin you to observe this commandment.

25:1] When there is a dispute between parties and they go to law, and a decision is rendered declaring the one in the right and the other in the wrong— 2] if the guilty one is to be flogged, the magistrate shall have the person lie down and shall supervise the giving of lashes, by count, as warranted by the offense. 3] The guilty one may be given up to forty lashes, but not more, lest being flogged further, to excess, your peer be degraded before your eyes.

4] You shall not muzzle an ox while it is threshing.

5] When brothers dwell together and one of them dies and leaves no offspring, the wife of the deceased shall not be married to a party outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall unite with her: he shall take her as his wife and perform the levir’s duty. 6] The first child that she bears shall be accounted to the dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out in Israel. 7] But if the [family] representative does not want to marry his brother’s widow, his brother’s widow shall appear before the elders in the gate and declare, “My husband’s brother refuses to establish a name in Israel for his brother; he will not perform the duty of a levir.” 8] The elders of his town shall then summon him and talk to him. If he insists, saying, “I do not want to marry her,” 9] his brother’s widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, pull the sandal off his foot, spit in his face, and make this declaration: Thus shall be done to the [family] representative who will not build up his brother’s house! 10] And he shall go in Israel by the name of “the family of the unsandaled one.”

11] If two men get into a fight with each other, and the wife of one comes up to save her husband from his antagonist and puts out her hand and seizes him by his genitals, 12] you shall cut off her hand; show no pity.

13] You shall not have in your pouch alternate weights, larger and smaller. 14] You shall not have in your house alternate measures, a larger and a smaller. 15] You must have completely honest weights and completely honest measures, if you are to endure long on the soil that the Eternal your God is giving you. 16] For everyone who does those things, everyone who deals dishonestly, is abhorrent to the Eternal your God.

17] Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey, after you left Egypt — 18] how, undeterred by fear of God, he surprised you on the march, when you were famished and weary, and cut down all the stragglers in your rear. 19] Therefore, when the Eternal your God grants you safety from all your enemies around you, in the land that the Eternal your God is giving you as a hereditary portion, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!

Translation from The Torah: A Modern Commentary, copyright (c) 2016 by CCAR Press. All rights reserved. Translation of Exodus; Leviticus; Numbers; Deuteronomy from NJPS © 1962, 1985, 1999; CJPS © 2006. Used and adapted by CCAR Press with permission from The Jewish Publication Society and the University of Nebraska Press. No part of this translation may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, distributed, or be transmitted without express written permission from the Central Conference of American Rabbis. For permission, please contact CCAR Press.