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From Collective Memory to National Identity

A litany of laws. A multitude of mitzvot. According to Maimonides, Ki Teitzei contains 72 of the 613 commandments in the Torah — the most commandments in any one Torah portion. As the time for the Israelites’ transition into the Land draws ever nearer, God and Moses continue to prepare the people for sovereignty and self-government. In addition to laws that cover rules and regulations within the Israelite community, this portion also includes two passages that dictate the relationship between the people of Israel and neighboring entities. 

D'var Torah By: 
Biblical Laws About the Treatment of Women
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Suzanne Singer

Parashat Ki Teitzei contains more mitzvot (commandments) than any other portion, and the emphasis is on justice and human dignity, especially for the most vulnerable in our society: the poor, the widow, the orphan, the stranger — and women. At first glance, it may not seem that protecting women is the Torah’s agenda. Rather, the text reveals how women are clearly treated as objects, as men’s possessions.

Ethical Existence Is in the Details

Through a web of seemingly disjointed scenarios, the Book of Deuteronomy is filled with large and small methodologies for preserving the possibility of ethical behavior even in the worst contexts.... Reading the Torah portion Ki Teitzei demands facing a battery of situations in which the average human being might not behave ethically, even in the smallest detail of life, and yet prescribes a way to be ethical nonetheless

D'var Torah By: 
Good Self-Care Makes for Good Fences
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Ariel Naveh

In this week’s Torah portion, Ki Teitzei, Moses continues his final speech to the Israelites, laying out an ethical code for our relationships with each other, with the world around us, and with God. Essentially, Moses mandates us to be good to each other, and good to God’s Creation. 

When a Debtor Does Not Repay

Ki Teitzei has a treasury of Jewish legal and ethical literature, including a discussion of lenders and debtors. When a debt is not repaid, the lender is forbidden from entering the debtor's home without permission to retrieve the security. The rule poses challenges both for lenders and debtors.

D'var Torah By: 
Compassion and Communication
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Kim Ettlinger

Ki Teitzei urges us to consider the legal and ethical responsibilities of both lenders and debtors. Debtors need to take responsibility for their commitments and not borrow beyond their means. Lenders need to show compassion and refrain from shaming debtors. 

The External War and the Internal War

This week's Torah portion is called Ki Teitzei — meaning literally, "When you go out." It is a reference to violence and war. "When you take the field [literally, "When you go out"] against your enemies, and the Eternal your God delivers them into your power and you take some of them captive ... " (Deuteronomy 21:10).

This sentence is but a tiny portion of more than a thousand verses in the Tanach that deal with war. Our Holy Scriptures came into history in a world in which fighting was a normal and often necessary activity. The ancient communities of the Middle East were governed according to tribal custom and law, and each ethnic community was in a combative relationship with its neighbor. There was no United Nations in those days, no European Union designed to administer diverse people according to collective rules and laws. Some tribal federations such as the twelve tribes of Israel pooled their resources, but that was for protection rather than for advancing peaceful relations with the rest of the world. The harsh social-economic and political reality of the ancient world often triggered violent and deadly conflicts between communities and peoples, and it is rare that we read a comment such as is found in Judges 3:11: " ... and the land had peace for forty years."

D'var Torah By: 
Understanding Ourselves as Part of the Ein Sof
Davar Acher By: 
Beni Wajnberg

In deciphering the meaning of our portion's call to violence and war (Deuteronomy 21:10), Rabbi Firestone cites the 19th century Chasidic teacher, the S'fat Emet, who understood the opening sentence of the parashah as referring to the daily struggles we face in life. He quotes the S'fat Emet's contention that, "In everything there is a point of divine life, but it is secret and hidden. Throughout the days of the week we are engaged in a battle and struggle to find that point ... "

Remember: Do Not Forget!

I do a lot of reading in my line of work, and I often cringe when I come upon an oxymoron.

D'var Torah By: 
The Religious Jew
Davar Acher By: 
Adam Grossman

Over seventy laws are outlined in Parashat Ki Teitzei—the greatest number appearing in any Torah portion. Rules and observances have become central to religiosity.

Ki Teitzei: We Are What We Remember

The last paragraph of Ki Teitzei is the maftir reading in non-Reform congregations on the Shabbat before Purim.

D'var Torah By: 
The Double-Edged Sword of Memory
Davar Acher By: 
Ethan Bair

The paragraph about blotting out the memory of Amalek at the end of Parashat Ki Teitzei serves as culmination to a Torah portion detailing moral laws.

Ki Teitzei: When You Go Out as a Warrior

Parashat Ki Teitzei includes a rich and varied collection of directives that serve as a partial blueprint for behaviors and norms to create the emerging covenantal culture.

D'var Torah By: 
Quelling Indifference
Davar Acher By: 
Adrienne Scott

"You must not remain indifferent" (Deuteronomy 22:3) is a phrase found in this week's parashah. In the context of Torah, this principle refers to returning livestock, as well as any other

Transgressions Transformed

In the Bible, much of the legislation transmitted by God to Israel is reassuringly unambiguous.

D'var Torah By: 
Ki Teitzei - An Invitation to Authenticity and Truth Telling
Davar Acher By: 
Yoel Kahn

A basic premise of the Jewish interpretative tradition is that everything in-and of-Torah has significance.

Putting Elul to Work

Four hundred years of slavery in Egypt, forty years of wandering in the desert: imagine how the legends of the Land of Israel that must have been told.

D'var Torah By: 
With This Breath, I Choose To Be Holy
Davar Acher By: 
Tanya Greenblatt

So many rules! Parashat Ki Teitzei instructs us on mitzvot large and small, communal and personal.

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