Shabbat Shalom! – Ki Tetzei

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

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi based in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, mom, poodle groomer, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at as the Coffee Shop Rabbi.

One thought on “Shabbat Shalom! – Ki Tetzei”

  1. I went to Shabbat services yesterday night and our rabbi was lucky in that he started on his first intervention with a car key that he had found (or maybe a congregant had handed it to him before service started) and he was literally beaming when he explained the mitzvah since he could accomplish it right in front of our eyes! That was pretty cool (and yes, a congregant came forward, and I don’t believe it was staged at all).

    In his drash, he helped us study the rebellious son passage and I remember he had also picked up that passage last year: he likes it because to him it shows that even at the time of the Talmud rabbis were all Reform: stating that there are mitzvot for things that never happen and will never happen! I had forgotten this from last year and am glad he reminded us and now I am sharing with you in the hope that this time I will not forget it! I liked his interpretation a lot!🙂


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