In the beginning G-d created the heaven and earth(1:1)
I am Hashem, your G-d(Excodus 20:2)
In the image of G-d.
In the beginning G-d created the heaven and earth(1:1)
I am Hashem, your G-d(Excodus 20:2)
In the image of G-d.
See, I have placed before you today the life and the good, and the death and the evil... and you shall choose life, so that you will live, you and your offspring. (30:15-19)
Why was it necessary to write
And you shall choose life? Isnt it expected that a person should choose life?
The answer is, that even when the choice between good and evil, blessing and curse is clear, it may not be the easiest choice. Sometimes, pressure from others and even from ourselves, makes us forget where our real priorities should lie. This verse in Parsha Nitzavim, like Moses encouragement of Joshua before entering the Land, are meant to strengthen us, reminding us you shall choose life...to love Hashem, your G-d, to listen to His voice and to cleave to him, for He is your life and the length of your days...
Deuteronomy: (26:1-29:8)פרשת כי תבוא.
The title of Parsha Ki Tavo,
כי תבוא,translates into English as
When you will come. The Parsha opens with the commandment, for when the people come into the Land, to bring to G-d their bikurim, the first of their fruits from the land. Each person is commanded to place the first fruit in a basket and bring the basket to the altar of G-d and recite, before the priest,
Aramean sought to destroy my father and he went down to Egypt and lived there with a small number of people and there he became a great, mighty and numerous nation. And the Egyptians treated us cruelly and afflicted us, and they imposed hard labor on us. So we cried out to the L-rd, G-d of our fathers, and the L-rd heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. And the Lord took us out from Egypt with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm, with great awe, and with signs and wonders. And He brought us to this place, and He gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the first of the fruit of the ground which you, L-rd, have given to me. (26:5-10).
We are also commanded to give a tithe of our produce to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be satisfied (26:12).
Moses then commands the people to, when they cross over the Jordan, set up great, plastered stones and write on the stones the words of the Torah. He also commands the people to proclaim the blessings and the curses on the tops of Mount Grizim and Mount Ebal, respectively. The tribes of Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin were positioned on Mount Grizim and the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, Naphtali were positioned on Mount Ebal while the elders of the Levite tribe and the Holy Ark were positioned between the two mountains. The Levites were to face the mountain alternately and proclaim the blessings and the curses in a loud voice (27:14) to each of which the tribes were to answer Amen.
The Torah then tells of the many rewards and blessings that one will receive if he/she listens to G-ds word and obeys His commandments. For example,
Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shalt you be in the field (28:3), and
Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out (28:6). The L-rd will open unto you His good treasure the heaven to give the rain of your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. And the L-rd will make you the head, and not the tail; and you shalt be above only, and you shall not be beneath (28:12-13). On the other hand, one who does not heed G-ds word and neglects His commandments will be punished with disease, drought and misfortune.
The Parsha concludes with Moses preparing the people for the renewal of the covenant that we will read in next weeks Parsha Nitzavim. Moses tells the people here that although they saw great wonders and miracles in Egypt and in the desert, G-d did not give you a heart to know, or eyes to see, or ears to hear until this day (29:3).
(והיה כי תבוא אל הארץ אשר ה נותן לך נחלה (כו: א
When you enter the land that the Lord your G-d is giving you as a heritage (26:1)
Although the word והיה or
in the phrase
when you come is understood as a point in the future, the word והיה can also be read as part of a conditional phrase, if you come. This is to teach us that our settling in Israel is conditional; only if we observe G-d s commandments can we settle in the land but if we disobey G-d, then:
ונספחתם מעל האדמה אשר אתה בא שמה לרשתה
...you will be uprooted from the land that you are about to to enter and possess(28:63).
In Parsha Ki Teitzei, Moses continues the list of social laws that we began reading last week. Here, he lists seventy-four mitzvot that relate to all aspects of human life, including debtors laws, the treatment of property and various family matters.
The Parsha opens with the laws of the beautiful female captive. It begins,
כי תצא למלחמה על איבך ונתנו ה אלקיך בידך וראית בשביה אשת יפת תאר וחשקת בה ולקחת לך לאשה
When you go out to war against your enemies, and the L-rd your G-d gives them into your hands...and you see among the captives a beautiful woman and you have a desire for her, you may take her for yourself as wife. Then you shall bring her to your house and she shall shave her head and cut her nails. And she shall remove her captives garment and remain in your house and bewail her father and her mother a full month; after that you may be intimate with her and she will be your wife (21:11-13).
Following the law of the beautiful captive, we read the law of inheritance rights. This law states that it is forbidden to give precedence to the son of a favorite wife, as it is written,
לא יוכל לבכר את בן האהובה על פני בן השנואה הבכר
He may not prefer the son of the loved one over the son of the hated one the firstborn(21:16).
We also read of the wayward and rebellious son who does not obey his father and his mother and they chasten him, and he does not listen to them (21:18). As it is written,
ורגמהו כל אנשי עירו באבנים ומת ובערתה הרע מקרבך וכל ישראל ישמעו ויראו
And all the men of his city will stone him to death so you shall purge the evil from within you and all the children of Israel shall listen and fear(21:21).
חזל, Our rabbis teach us that the law of a the wayward son comes immediately after the law of the beautiful captive in order to teach us that if a man marries a beautiful captive, he will likely end up with a wayward and rebellious son.
The Parasha continues to discuss such varied mitzvot as the dignity of the dead, השבת אבדה -returning lost items, שילוח הקן -sending off the mother bird before taking her eggs, כלאים- forbidden hybrids, sexual crimes and restrictions, and divorce and marriage. For example, while it is forbidden to marry Ammonites and Moabites but Egyptians and Edomites who convert to Judaism are accepted after three generations.
The Parsha ends with a very important message that we customarily read on the shabbat before the holiday of Purim,
זכור את אשר עשה לך עמלק בדרך בצאתכם ממצרים (כה:יז
Remember what Amalek did to you on the way, when you were coming out of Egypt.(25:17)
תמחה את זכר עמלק מתחת השמים לא תשכח (כה:יט
You shall obliterate the memory of Amalek from beneath the sky; do not forget(25:19).
וראיתה בשביה אשת יפת תאר וחשקתה בה ולקחת לך לאשה (כא:יא
...and you see among the captives a beautiful woman and you have a desire for her, you may take her for yourself as a wife(21:11).
The beautiful woman is a representative of the יצר הרע or evil inclination, which appears beautiful and seductive. The word תאר or
appearance can also be read as deriving from the Hebrew word to describe. Like the captive woman, the beauty of the evil inclination is an external one that can be described but we can defeat the יצר הרע (evil inclination) by looking at our inner beauty, our connection to G-d.
The קבלה (Kabbalah) explains this principle:
וחשקתה בה ולקחת
and you have a desire for her, you make take her for yourself
By examining the instructions that are given in the rest of the verse. Just as in the instance of a man who desires the captive woman, if a person desires to be connected to G-d and the שכינה (Shechinah), the G-dly presence, he/she has to take several steps first. For example, just as the verse instructs,
והבאתה אל תוך ביתך
you will bring her into your house,
a person has to bring the שכינה (Shechinah) into his house by orienting his thoughts and feelings to be לשם שמים or for the sake of heaven, and then:
וגלחה את ראשה ועשתה את צפרניה
And she will shave her head and cut her nails (21:12).
The hair and the nails are external things in our body. The Torah wants us to dwell on our inner נשמה (soul) and not to dwell on the superficial. Another explanation is that our hair and our nails are representative of the material items that captivate our attention and our time but we must try to focus on the internal to see the beauty of the שכינה Shechinah, the G-dly presence.
(לא תזרע כרמך כלאים (כב:ט
Do not plant in your vineyard a mixed variety of species (22:9).
The הרב חידא (The Chida) says that a person should not mix מצוות or mitzvot (commandments) and עבירות (sins) together. For example, a person should not speak לשון הרע (slanderous speech) after he/she gives צדקה (charity), or study Torah but not honor his/her parents.
כלאים mixed variety of species contains the Hebrew word כלא, a prison. From this we can learn that we should not let our נשמה become imprisoned in and mixed with the daily preoccupations of the physical body. Instead, we should remember that our bodies are only vessels for the pure soul within.
Judges and officers shall you appoint for yourself in all your gates...(Deuteronomy 16: 18).
Appoint for yourself: Appoint your conscience. A person should always judge himself first and his conscience should follow him in every step he takes.
בכל שעריך: The Siftei Kohen explains that our body is like a city with seven gates: two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and the mouth. A person should appoint internal judges to examine everything you hear, see and let out of your mouth.
See I place before you today a blessing and a curse (11: 26).
The word ראה contains the word אר or
light. This connection teaches us that if we observe G-ds commandments and are able to differentiate between right and wrong, then we can increase the amount of light in the universe.
The directive ראה (
See) is written in the singular form, while the word
לפניכם is written in the plural form. This is in order to teach us that G-d not only values us as a nation, as it is written,
והיתם לי לעם סגולה
but that he also values each of us as individuals, like a father who loves each of his children.
Why does G-d use the אנכי form of
I, instead of the אני form here?
To teach that in order to merit the first of the Ten Commandments,
אנכי ה אלקיך
I am G-d your Lord
we have to see G-ds deeds. We have to open our eyes and see G-ds creation starting with the daily functions of our body to the rules of the cosmos.
Additionally, the word אנכי can be read as אנוכי or
selfish, because when a person is consumed with his ego, he can not see his surroundings and understand that everything is from above.
(Exerted from parsha to go)