Beit Midrash

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

Ki Teitzeh


Rabbi Berel Wein

Elul 5768
This week's parsha is in itself an exception to the entire pattern of the book of Dvarim. Whereas all of the other parshiyot deal with the past history of the Jewish people and with the future destiny of Israel both in their land and in exile, this week's parsha resembles the previous parshiyot of Mishpatim and Kedoshim which are replete with mitzvot, commandments and halachic issues. Why did Moshe interrupt his flow of the Jewish story, which is in reality the leitmotif of all of the book of Dvarim, with a discussion of mitzvot and halachic matters? I believe that at least the subliminal message in this is that all of Jewish history, life and destiny lies in the people's relationship to mitzvot, observance and their respect and willingness to abide with halachic standards. The parsha of Ki Teitzeh lies almost exactly in the middle of the book of Dvarim. It is the linchpin upon which the entire book rests. Halacha nd mitzvot define the Jewish past and certainly are the ultimate guarantees of the Jewish future. All of Jewish life inexorably collapses if there is no respect or adherence shown towards halachic norms and observance of mitzvot. Moshe therefore does not see the inclusion of this oarsha of detailed and numerous mitzvot and halachic issues as being an interruption in the flow of his final oration to Israel but rather it serves to reinfoce everything that has gone before and everything that will occur after his departure from the leadership of the Jewish people, which is the general subject matter of his oration and this book.

Our rabbis have commented that the first issue raised in the parsha regarding war with our enemies refers not only to a struggle with foreign physical and national enemies but it also deals with the inner struggles that face each and every one of us on a daily basis.The parsha of Ki Teitezeh invariably falls in the month of Elul - the month of introspection and self-assessment. It is difficult to gain a perspective on the general picture of Jewish life and its meaning and mission as a people if one does not have some idea as to where he or she fits into the grand picture and immortal story. And mitzvot and halacha are the keys to arrive at such an understanding of one's Jewish self. The Torah indicates that is in reality a never ending struggle in which we are engaged - the struggle within ourselves against destrructive temptations and foolish decisions. Just as the national struggles of the Jewish people against its enemies seemingly never abate, so too is our inner war within ourselves a continuing battle with all of the ups and downs invariably associated with such a long and wearing struggle. And as we all know the devil in life is always in the details, Moshe emphasizes to us the details of mitzvot and halacha - of all Jewish life generally in this parsha. I believe that therefore this week's parsha of Ki Teitzeh is especially worthy of our study and inculcation into our daily lives.
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