Torah – Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19 Haftarah – Isaiah 54:1-10 Brit Chadashah – Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Corinthians 5:1-10
Ki-Tetze, Hebrew for when you go out, is the parasha (study) for this week. There is much to say about this study which contains the most number of Mitzvah (commands) than any other parashat. Out of the 613 Commands of Torah, you will find 74 of them in this portion.
Before I get into the meat of this week’s study, I wanted to share a story I read earlier this summer. I want to share it because it is tremendous food for thought and perhaps may shed some light on a very common question many people have. Also, it ties in somewhat with one of the Commands in this parasha.
The story goes that one day a student was asking his Rabbi a question. He wanted to know why it was that it seemed to be that wicked men prospered in this life while many righteous men appeared to suffer and struggle. The rabbi explained that the answer was straight forward and simple actually. Because the breath of G-d is in all men that there is at least a little bit of goodness even in a wicked man. Likewise, in a righteous man there is at least a small amount of wickedness. Therefore, the wicked man prospers in this life in order that the good that is within him receives its just reward here and now, that in the life to come he receives his just, eternal reward. The righteous man suffers now for the small amount of wickedness that is within him so that in the life to come he receives his just reward for his good.
Whether or not this is reality, I do not know for certain, but I do know that this makes more sense than any other explanation I have ever heard offered up for this question.
Let’s look at an excerpt from this week’s Torah portion and see this principle being taught, at least in part.
Deuteronomy 24:12-15, “And if the man [is] poor, you shall not keep his pledge overnight. 13 “You shall in any case return the pledge to him again when the sun goes down, that he may sleep in his own garment and bless you; and it shall be righteousness to you before the L-RD your G-d. 14 “You shall not oppress a hired servant [who is] poor and needy, [whether] one of your brethren or one of the aliens who [is] in your land within your gates. 15 “Each day you shall give [him] his wages, and not let the sun go down on it, for he [is] poor and has set his heart on it; lest he cry out against you to the L-RD, and it be sin to you.”
In the above verses, we see a Command concerning day laborers. I recently heard an explanation of the day laborers that went something like this… When we come into this life we are like contractors sent for the purpose of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world.) In general, when we think of contractors and day laborers the following ideas come to mind.
Day laborers tend to be people that are focused on the here and now. They work today and expect their reward today. They certainly have skills and abilities that are needed to work towards completion of a project, but again, they are not focused on long term goals, only short term satiation of their needs.
Contractors typically are given a deposit to begin the work. They have many skills and abilities as well, but are focused on the big picture and have a higher degree of knowledge, understanding to get the job done. They see the job through to the end, when upon satisfactory completion of the agreed upon project, they then receive their reward in full.
In essence, those of us who have found Yeshua (Jesus) and are working for His Kingdom are like contractors. We receive the deposit which is enough to equip us to achieve the goals we are sent here to accomplish. Yeshua taught that we ought to store up our treasures in Heaven, which agrees with this concept.
Those who have not found Yeshua are like the day laborers, who are short sighted and concerned only with the temporal things of this life.
Let’s go back to the beginning and look at the opening verse.
Deuteronomy 21:10, “When you go out to war against your enemies, and the L-RD your G-d delivers them into your hand, and you take them captive.”
When you go forth. It is not a question of whether or not you may go to battle, this fact is assured. Also note that the word “you” is used. This is important as it links the Command to us in our day and time. Yes, this applies to us! How? We are not soldiers going forth in battle, are we?
In a sense, yes we are! Here in the month of Elul, we are returning to G-d and His Ways. We are in the midst of a time of repentance. Our battle is not against flesh and blood as Paul writes. We are in an ongoing battle against Yetze Harra, the evil inclination. We ought to be waging war always against the things in our lives that tempt us to stray from the path set before us.
Fast forward now to the end of this study.
Deuteronomy 25:17-19, “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, 18 “how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you [were] tired and weary; and he did not fear G-d. 19 “Therefore it shall be, when the L-RD your G-d has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the L-RD your G-d is giving you to possess [as] an inheritance, [that] you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.”
Here in the parasha containing the most Commands of any other study in Torah, we start out with the fact that we will go to war against sin. We conclude now with us being urged to remember the Amorites and Moabites and to blot their name out!
These were peoples who attacked the weakest among the people. They specialized in “doubt” if you will. Judaism, our foundation of faith is based in action. Shema means “hear and do.” So here we are given a great number of Commands we are expected to hear and do. In conclusion, we are encouraged to erase doubt and fear. Doubt not that you can do that which is required of you. Fear not that you will somehow fail. Remember also you have the wonderful Atoning blood of Yeshua! Fear not, doubt not and wage war against all that comes to detour you from His Way. Shalom!