This week’s parsha, Ki Teitzei, begins its discussion with the laws considering the Yefat Toar- laws concerning a captive gentile woman whom a Jewish solider wants to marry.
Even in times of war, the Torah demands that Jewish men conduct themselves in the utmost proper manner, the highest level of kedusha- holiness- is expected from a Jewish solider.
However, the Torah creates an exception for a Jewish man to take a gentile captive as his wife for a number of reasons. If gentile women were forbidden to Jewish men, naturally the yatzar hara- evil inclination- would desire the women even more so, we always want what we can’t have; hence the Torah finds a way to appease the yatzar hara in order to prevent a person from committing additional sins. Although the Torah permits this union, there are many laws attached to it, in order to prevent a Jewish man from undergoing this type of marriage.
Even though the men in the army had the status of tzaddikim, the excitement of battle was known to bring them spiritually off balance. Even though man might have been momentarily hypnotized by his passion, the laws of Yesat Toar were meant for him to reconsider his true intentions behind marrying her.
The Jewish solider is permitted to marry the gentile woman under the following conditions:
1. In order to make sure that the Jewish man is marrying this gentile with pure motivations, she must be stripped of her external beauty: she must shave her head (hair beautifies a woman), she must grown out her nails (so that they look unkempt and ugly), she must trade in her elegant clothing for clothes of mourning.
2. She is also must undergo a process of purification for one month, in order for her to adjust to her new environment, and to dissociate herself from idol worship. During this period she is also making preparations to convert; however, if she refuses to convert, she must be sent away—the Torah forbids enslaving her.
Moreover, the Torah creates these prohibitions in order to portray that this type of marriage is not recommended. Additionally, these laws emphasize that people should not base marriage on only external factors, allowing their passion overcome their neshama’s pure desires. However, when a person marries to sanctify Hashem’s name, he will have children who are Torah scholars.
In our society, we too are faced with the dilemma of marrying for impure intentions. When looking for a person to marry, we focus on their status, job, money, education, physical attributes, family history, etc., rather than looking at their inner attributes, we are blinded by the fleeting external components, then we wonder why divorce rates are so high! People are unfortunately overcome by their passion and marry the wrong people for all the wrong reasons. The prescription to finding the right person however is finding a person who has a pure heart with even purer intentions. A person who wants to continuously develop themselves, their middot, and their connection with Hashem all the days of their lives, is a what we should be looking for!
We should all look at the laws pertaining to the Yefat Toas to remind us not to let our evil inclination rule over us. May we all be blessed with the clarity to know we are dating/marrying a person who also has the purest of intentions to developing a marriage and family leshaim shemayim!