This week, our Parshat HaShevua Ki Tzeitzei is sponsored by Drs. David and Malka Blass of Ramat Beit Shemesh and dedicated for a Refuah Shleima for the Cholim of the community. To the Blass family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.
You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.
Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
Parsha Ki Teitsei teaches numerous Mitzvot such as; returning lost items to their rightful owners, loaning money to one’s fellow Jew free from interest, what one is permitted to or prohibited from taking from another Jew as loan security, the laws of Shatnes (wool and linen together), Tzitzit, and dealing fairly and truthfully with one’s fellow Jews in business. We also learn of Mitzvot such as sending a mother bird away before taking the young or the eggs and helping one’s fellow Jew load and unload a burden, fencing in a roof area and not harnessing together different species of animals on the same yoke.
Our parsha also contains a posuk (Sefer Devarim, Perek 22, posuk 5) regarding male and female garb and the prohibition against cross-dressing, considered by Hashem as “an abomination.” This prohibition relates closely to Parshat Acharei Mos in Sefer Vayikra. There, Torah teaches (Sefer Vayikra, chapter 18, posukim 22-23):
“You shall not lie with a man as one lies with a woman, it is an abomination. Do not lie with any animal to be contaminated with it; a woman shall not stand before an animal for mating, it is a perversion.”
Rashi comments on the word “abomination” in the Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Vayikra, chapter 18, posuk 22 (page 653):
An abomination. None of the relationships given above [in Sefer Vayikra, chapter 18, posukim 6-20] are described with this term of disgust, because they involve normal activity, though with prohibited mates. Homosexuality [and bestiality], however is unnatural and therefore abominable.
Rabbi Henach Leibowitz, in his sefer “Majesty of Man”, comments on the state of our society today, something we may all know, but maybe don’t yet sufficiently internalize:
…Conduct once considered unthinkable is now commonplace. Acts of immorality, vulgarity… which Torah defines as abominations and only a generation ago were considered unimaginable, are now paraded openly without shame.
Do we realize the effect our environment has on us? Our neshamas are holy and pure, created in Hashem’s image and instilled with the sensitivity of the Torah’s moral standards.
The Maftir Aliyah of our Parsha tells us collectively to remember, for all time, the actions of Amalek who attacked B’nai Yisrael when they were weak while blotting the remembrance of Amalek from the earth.
Rabbi Shmuel Goldin writes, citing The Rav, Rabbi Joseph Soloveichik in his sefer “Unlocking The Torah Text,” (Sefer Devarim, pages 255-256):
The Rav notes that the Rambam clearly states in his codification of the law that the obligation to destroy the seven Canaanite nations no longer applies because “their memory has long since perished.” Strikingly, however, the Rambam makes no such allowance concerning the obligation to destroy the nation of Amalek.
Why, asks The Rav, does the Rambam assume that Amalek survives while the memory of other ancient nations “perish”?
…The Rav suggests that two distinct commandments concerning Amalek emerge from the Torah text reflecting two different categories of Amalek.
The verse “You shall blot out the remembrance of Amalek” mandates the destruction of each genealogical descendant of Amalek.
The verse “Hashem will have war with Amalek from generation to generation” establishes the obligation to obliterate any nation across the face of history that seeks to destroy the Jews. This second commandment… defines Amalek in broad conceptual terms rather than biological terms… “There still exists,” The Rav maintains, “a category of Amalek [as a people] even now after the peoples have been intermingled [and there are no longer individual Amalekites].”
The Rav explains that within the context of the commandment, Hitler and the Nazis were the Amalekites of the 1930s and 1940s, while “the mobs of Nasser and the mufti were the Amalekites of the 1950s and 1960s. We can safely assume that The Rav would similarly identify the members of Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and others as the Amalekites in our day. [Author’s note: Presumably, due to the facts of history, The Rav’s definition of Amalek should similarly include the PLO — including their leaders: Yassir Arafat, Mahmud Abbas, etc., Black September and more]
This national identity [Amalek] remains intact to this day, obligating the Jews in each generation to ongoing struggle against the Amalekites of their day.
We remember the Amalek without, throughout the generations and in whatever guise and abomination against us that he manifests himself — even in our days, but it also seems to this author a necessity that we remember; “lo nishkach v’lo Nislach” — we won’t forgive and we can’t and won’t forget the lack of justice, principle and morality of successive Israel’s governances, seemingly best summed up as “being merciful to the cruel, and cruel to the merciful” as exemplified by the various evictions of recent years; i.e., the expulsion of Jewish Brethren from Gush Katif, the thrice expelled families of Amona, the events in Chevron — in Shalhevet neighborhood, Beit Shapira, Beit HaShalom, Federman’s farm, the Ulpana in Beit El and more.
And we can’t overlook the equivocal actions in time of war by recent successive Israeli governments during a Milchamet Shel Torah, a mandatory war for the defense of, and survival of Am Yisrael and of our sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael.
These equivocal actions amount to NOT fighting the war with a strategy for complete victory, toleration of repeated ceasefires continuously violated by the enemy, with such toothless ceasefires being perceived as victories by murderous, terrorist enemies as they continue to hold the remains of our 2 dead soldiers in their hands.
We also can’t forget Jonathan Pollard, now 65 years old, who has suffered over 32 years in US prison, including years of solitary confinement and who remains, after being released from prison, under house arrest for what seems to be an indefinite period of time and banned from leaving the United States for Israel.. The extraordinary length of his incarceration is due in large part to a benignly neglectful and disdainful Israeli governance who slammed the Embassy doors on their agent when he sought asylum and then were content for decades to seeing him languish in prison. Only in recent years, did Israel’s prime minister, president and governance begin making sounds on Pollard’s behalf due to intense pressure — or perhaps not to be embarrassed by being outdone by the numbers of influential Americans calling for the President’s commutation of Pollard’s term to time served.
Only at such time as repeated verbal contrition, and frank admissions of the errors, misjudgements, appeasements and prejudices against other Jews regarding these.past events are manifested — Yehuda-esque (related to confronting the Viceroy regarding hs brother Benyamin), followed by actions backing up the verbal contrition, is forgiveness and a beginning to building of unity possible.
In short, our Parsha emphasizes that the unity with which B’nei Yisrael L’Chatchila is to go out to war against her enemies evolves from collective responsibility, kindness, caring and fairness for and with each other fellow Jew. These attributes of being fair, straight with, and caring for another person are kinder than the insensitivity, indifference and disunity of making up any and every excuse or non-reason under the sun for an action or kindness not done. Collective unity — responsibility, kindness, caring and fairness for and with each other negates the possibility of a kindness not shown; whether the action relates to Shidduchim, to employment searching and interviews, to giving Tzeddakah, respecting the kavanah (intent) of others when saying Aleinu, etc. or merely making the effort to hold a bus driver for another few seconds while his fellow huffs and puffs under the weight of grocery bags as he runs to catch the bus. This relates to each Jew and how he relates toward his fellow Jew, both on a personal level and collectively.
In previous writings, the performance of mitzvot has been equated with a weight scale by asking; who among us mortals can know which mitzvah, even the smallest “Eikev” mitzvah, might just tip the scales, both in terms of any particular individual or on behalf of the collective national redemption of B’nei Yisrael? In short, having just entered the Elul season, “the days of awe” and the run up to the Yom HaDin, the Day of Judgement, we need to try honestly and objectively to look back, review and examine our actions over the past year and longer.
Our lives and our hopes for a good year and good things to come hang in the balance of the Cheshbon, if you will, between our Mitzvot (good deeds) and our Aveirot (sins or violations of Divine law). Once again, as 5780 approaches, it’s “Clutch time” and as that famous coach says, “Our Mitzvot aren’t everything, they’re the Only Thing.”
May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of five years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.