Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Ki Tetze
To dedicate this lesson



Rabbi Stewart Weiss

Elul 7 5777
For (too many) centuries, much of the Torah existed only in the abstract. Many Mitzvot applied only in Israel, or when there was a Bet HaMikdash, a King or a Kohen Gadol, & could perhaps be studied, but not fully practiced. While we still have not yet returned to a complete world of observance, we are B"H well on our way! We have reclaimed our one & only Land & can now both practice & appreciate many things, for the first time in 2000 years.

Thus we can literally apply the lesson in our Sedra’s first pasuk: "When you go out against your enemy…" which teaches us 2 imperatives vis a vis our adversaries: 1) We must "go out," i.e. pro-actively seek out the enemy &
vanquish him before he does us; & 2) We must treat our enemy as our enemy. Normally, we exercise mercy & forbearance, for we are a merciful people. But when facing an enemy whose goal is to obliterate us, we are forbidden to show mercy, for it will surely cause innocents to die.

Fittingly, our Parsha ends on the note with which it started: Wiping out, completely, our arch-enemy Amalek.

But even as we are commanded to be tough & unforgiving against our foes, this month of Elul – during which this Sedra of Ki Tetze is always read - implores us to show overwhelming love & conciliation to our fellow Jews.

As we know, the code word of Elul is "Ani L’Dodi V’Dodi Li", the phrase formed by the initials of the month. But this phrase is puzzling & quite awkward, & does not translate well at all. In English we say, "I am my Beloved’s, & my
Beloved is mine." But the Hebrew seems a bit forced, as if the verb is mysteriously missing from the phrase.

But this is exactly the point! Indeed, there should be a verb in the sentence, such as Ani Mavtiach l’Dodi, Ani Notayn l‘Dodi, etc. (I promise to my beloved, I give to my beloved, etc). But any verb, though adding an action, would also be limiting, as if to say, "I do such-and-such for my Beloved - but that’s all!" By leaving the verb out, it is as if we are saying, I do _________ for my Beloved. Now you go ahead & fill in the blank, for whatever you name, I am prepared to do it for Hashem, & He for me!

We’re all familiar with the adage, "Only love can conquer hate." But the Torah clearly disagrees with this! We are commanded to battle fiercely to remove hate & haters from the world. But loving those who are not set on our
destruction - particularly our fellow Jews – as well as loving G-d, is a sure way to guarantee that we’ll be blessed by Hashem & will always prevail over our enemies.
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