This week’s Torah portion is Ki Tetzei (“When you go out”) and it includes many commandments, some of them quite difficult to understand. The commandments for a woman taken in war are here, as are the commandment concerning an unloved wife and the one concerning a disobedient son. Those are just in the first eleven verses!
Many of these commandments continue to perplex us as we struggle to see how to live lives of Torah. Some concern matters we’d rather not think about at all. Some seem to propose impossible acts!
For instance, the rules for dealing with lost property begin with verses found in this portion. If we take the commandments literally as written, then any time we find any object that might be lost, no matter how beat up it is, no matter how hopeless it is to find the original owner, we must keep that object and search until we find the owner! If we read it literally, then every observant Jew would lug around a huge bag full of lost pennies, broken ballpoint pens, and other detritus, searching for their owners. This is where the process we know as “Talmud” kicks in – the Talmud is the record of our communal struggle with seemingly impossible or unfair commandments. (If you want to learn more about that, I refer you to the post What is the Talmud? elsewhere in this blog.)
Lots to talk about in this portion! So without further explication, here are some divrei Torah on Ki Tetzei:
On Right Relationship with Each Other – Rabbi Rachel Barenblat
At Home and On the Road – Rabbi Dan Fink
Whether You Believe in the Metzaveh or Not – Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild
We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby – Rabbi Amy Scheinerman
Shimon Peres: Pursuer of Peace – Rabbi Sharon Sobel
Honor – Rabbi Kari Hofmeister Tuling, PhD
To Wear is Human – Rabbi Elliot Kukla and Rabbi Reuven Zellman