Beit Midrash

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



Rabbi Stewart Weiss

Elul 12 5778
We all know that the Torah is written on many – some say 70! – different levels of meaning. If we look at the opening section of our Sedra, the subjects seems a bit bizarre & non-applicable to our times, though feasible. They include: Capturing a beautiful non-Jewish woman in wartime; having two sons from two different wives & loving one while hating the other; & dealing with a corrupt & rebellious son deserving of death (which, according to most opinions, never
actually occurred).

It’s hard, if not impossible, for us to relate to these far-out scenarios. But on an allegorical level – especially since the Book of Devarim is essentially about Moshe’s final Musar to the Jewish People – these items may very well make a whole lot of sense, both for then, as well as for our own era & contemporary society.

The rebellious "child" is Am Yisrael, for we have indeed strayed as a nation from the path that has been set out for us; we have not always listened to the voice of our "Father" – Hashem, nor our "mother," our ancestors. In the "battle" that we fight constantly against our own inclinations, we have often succumbed to the perceived beauty of the "Eshet Y’Fat To’ar," the captive woman who represents the forbidden fruit of sin. We desired her, we took her as our close companion, our lover. But when we removed her glossy, shiny cover – when we "shaved her head" & "trimmed her fingernails" - we saw that the sin wasn’t nearly as attractive as it was when it first seduced us & appealed to our lesser, baser inclinations.

But all is not lost. For just as with the man who has two wives - & wishes to favor the child who is born to his more beloved second wife – Hashem will not allow His firstborn, however scorned, to be superseded by that second child. Even if we, the Jewish People, at times take on the guise of a non-believer; even if another nation appears to be more pious & G-d-fearing than us, Hashem still "recognizes" His children, for deep down he knows that we will return to
Him & assume our rightful status.

The word "Yakir-recognize" is connected to "Yakar – precious." Like a person who sees his long-lost relative after a very long time apart (as happened dramatically this past week in Korea), Hashem instantly recognizes His chosen people & loves us – if not for what we are now, then for what we inevitably will be.

And so Moshe Rabbeinu, ever the quintessential teacher, is sending us a veiled, yet vitally important message in the opening p’sukim of Ki Tetze. He is telling us that life is a constant battle between right & wrong, between good &
evil, between faith & the failure to appreciate the unique connection we have to G-d. He is telling us to soldier on, until we win both the battle and the war for our soul.
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