The ‘parsha’ (‘Torah’ portion) this week is ‘Parsha Ki Teitzei’ (‘when you go out’) and it is found in Deuteronomy 21:10 – 25:19. The corresponding ‘haftorah’ (reading of the prophets) is found in Isaiah 54:1–10.
‘Parsha Ki Teitzei’ is the 49th weekly ‘Torah’ portion in the annual Jewish cycle of ‘Torah’ reading, and the sixth in the book of Deuteronomy.
‘Parsha Ki Teitzei’ sets out a series of miscellaneous laws mostly governing civil and domestic life. In fact, 74 of the ‘Torah's’ 613 ‘mitzvot’ (commandments) are found in ‘Parsha Ki Teitzei’, 27 being positive ‘mitzvot’ and 47 being negative ‘mitzvot’.
‘Parsha Ki Teitzei’ begins with the law of the “beautiful captive woman”.
Moses directed the Israelites that, when G-d delivered enemies into their hands and the Israelites took captives, if an Israelite saw among the captives a beautiful woman and desired her and wanted to marry her, the Israelite was to bring her into his house; there she had to shave her hair, trim her nails, discard her captive clothing and spend a month mourning for her father and mother. Thereafter, the Israelite could be intimate with her and take her as his wife.
However if he found that he no longer wanted her, he had to set her free. He was not allowed to sell her for money, keep her as a servant, or treat her badly because he had humbled her.
This law is followed by two others, forbidding giving precedence to the son of a favourite wife.
If a man had two wives who bore him sons but he loved one and did not love the other, and the unloved wife bore him his firstborn son, when he willed his property to his sons, he could not treat the son of the loved wife as firstborn in disregard of the older son of the unloved wife. Rather, he had to accept the firstborn - the son of the unloved wife - and allot to him his birthright of a double portion of all that he possessed.
If a couple had a wayward and defiant son who did not heed his father or mother and did not obey them even after they disciplined him, they were to bring him to the elders of his town and publicly declare their son to be disloyal, defiant, a glutton and a drunkard. The men of his town were then to stone him to death.
This is followed by laws legislating the dignity of the dead and the obligation to bring a body to prompt burial, the ‘mitzvah’ to care for and return a lost object - if the owner could provide identifying signs, and the duty to help lift up a fellow man's beast of burden that had “fallen on the road”.
The next law declares that it was not right for a woman to be dressed in man's clothing, or for a man to put on women's clothing; whoever did such things was an abomination to G-d - Deuteronomy 22:5: “a woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman's garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the LORD your God.”
The next law concerned the safety of a visitor to one’s property. When one built a new house, one had to make a guard rail for the roof so that no one should fall from the roof.
Moses told the people not to sow a vineyard with a second kind of seed so as not to defile the vineyard.
He told the Israelites to make ‘tzitzit’ (tassels) on the four corners of their garment with which they had to cover themselves.
Moses told the people that if a man libeled his wife, falsely accusing her of unfaithfulness because he wanted to divorce her, that man would be flogged and fined a hundred shekels of silver; he would then never be able to divorce her against her will.
Adultery was punishable by death, both for the man and the woman; a woman who was raped however, was blameless. If a man forced himself on an unmarried woman, he was obligated to marry her - if she so desired – and he would never be able to divorce her.
The ‘Torah’ also specifies a number of forbidden incestuous relationships, as well as a list of persons who are precluded from marrying into the community of Israel.
‘Parsha Ki Teitzei’ gives regulations to ensure the hygiene and spiritual purity in a military camp; the rule not to return an escaped slave to his master; the exhortation that “there shall be no female prostitute of the daughters of Israel, nor a male prostitute of the sons of Israel”; the prohibition against charging interest on a loan to a fellow Jew; the obligation to keep one's word and fulfill one's vows; and the commandment to allow an employee working for you in food production to be able to “eat on the job”.
‘Parsha Ki Teitzei’ tells us that if a slave sought refuge with the Israelites, they were not to turn the slave over to the slave’s master; they were to let the former slave live in any place the former slave might choose among the Israelites’ settlements. Also, they were also not to ill-treat the former slave.
When a man married a woman and consummated the marriage and it happened that she did not find favour in his eyes because he discovered her to be immoral and he gave her a ‘get’ (bill of divorce) and divorced her and she married another man, she would not be able to remarry her first husband.
Also, when a man had taken a new wife, he was not allowed to go out to war and neither would he be allowed to work. He would be free at home for one year to give joy to his wife.
‘Parsha Ki Teitzei’ goes on to tell us that kidnapping a person to sell him into slavery was a capital crime.
When taking possession of an object as security for the repayment of a loan, certain restrictions applied; it was forbidden to impound the debtor's tools of trade, for then you “took a man's life as security.”
When an Israelite lent his brother anything, he could not go into his brother’s house to fetch his security. He had to stand outside, and the man who was in his debt had to bring the security out to him.
The next ‘Mitzvah’ declares that one had to pay one’s employees on time. Day workers had to be paid within twelve hours of the conclusion of their workday or work-night; hence a night worker had to be paid before sundown.
Fathers could not be put to death because of his son’s transgression, nor could sons be put to death because of his father’s transgression; each man would be put to death for his own transgression.
One could not misrepresent the judgment of a stranger or an orphan. One could not take a widow's garment as security for a loan.
When an Israelite reaped the harvest in his field and forgot a sheaf in the field, he could not go back to fetch it; it had to be left for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. This would allow G-d to bless that person in all that he did.
Also to be left to the poor, were the “gleanings” - the solitary grapes, olives, etc. that remained on the vine or tree after the larger bunches have been harvested.
The active transgression of a biblical prohibition was punishable by 39 lashes.
If brothers lived together and one of them died having no son, the dead man's wife could not marry an outsider. Rather her husband's brother would be intimate with her making her his wife, thus performing the obligation of ‘yibbum’ (Levirate marriage).
The firstborn whom she bore would take the dead husband’s name so that the dead man’s name would not be wiped out in Israel.
However if the man did not wish to take his brother's wife, the brother's wife would go to the elders and tell them that her husband's brother refused to keep up his brother's name in Israel by not wanting to perform the obligation of ‘yibbum’ with her.
The elders of his city would then speak to him, and he would have to say that he did not wish to take her. His brother's wife would then approach him in front of the elders, remove his shoe from his foot and spit in his face saying to him: “Thus shall be done to the man who will not build up his brother's household!” And that family shall be called in Israel, “The family of the one whose shoe was removed.””
The last of ‘Parsha Ki Teitzei's’ 74 ‘mitzvot’ are the commandments to remember the deeds of the most vile of Israel's enemies, the nation of Amalek and blot out their remembrance from under the heavens.
‘Haftorah Ki Teitzei’ found in Isaiah 54:1–10 is the fifth of a series of seven ‘haftarot of Consolation’. These seven ‘haftarot’ commence on the ‘Shabbat’ following ‘Tisha b'Av’ and continue until ‘Rosh Hashanah’ (the Jewish New Year).
In ‘Haftorah Ki Teitzei’, forsaken Jerusalem is likened to a barren woman devoid of children. G-d encourages her to rejoice, for the time will soon come when the Jewish nation will return and flourish - repopulating Israel's once desolate cities.
The prophet Isaiah assured the Jewish people that G-d had not forsaken them and, although He momentarily hid His countenance from them, He would gather them from their exiles with great mercy.
The ‘haftorah’ compares the final redemption to the pact G-d made with Noah. Just as G-d promised to never bring a flood over the entire earth, so too He would never again be angry at the Jewish people and that He would never remove His covenant from them – Isaiah 54:9-10: “For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; For as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has mercy on you.”
‘Parsha Ki Teitzei’ focuses on 74 of the 613 ‘mitzvot’ found in the ‘Torah’. Rather than address the ‘mitzvot’ let me rather look at the grace that comes through Yeshua.
As one can see from the above ‘mitzvot’, it is highly unlikely that one would be able to keep them all, yet this is what Almighty G-d expected of the children of Israel.
However, because G-d knew that they would be unable to keep the ‘mitzvot’, He introduced the sacrificial system to atone for one’s sin – first in the Tabernacle and then the Temple.
However, once the Temple was destroyed, the sacrificial system came to an end and atonement could not be made for sin – until Yeshua came to take the sin of all mankind – past, present and future upon Himself – 1 Peter 2:24: “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness”.
This is why it is important that we focus on grace rather than on the law (or commandments). It is impossible to keep all the ‘mitzvot’ which is why Rabbi Shaul (the Apostle Paul) writes in Galatians 3:10: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”
And James 2:10 declares: “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”
This is why we have to focus on the grace that comes through Yeshua and the Cross that makes atonement for our sins.
I have already said that once the Temple was destroyed, the sacrificial system came to an end and atonement could not be made for sin – until Yeshua came to take the sin of all mankind upon Himself. However, what about the soul; how does one make atonement for the soul?
Leviticus 17:11 tells us that the only way to make atonement for the soul is through the sacrificial system and the shedding of blood - “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”
However, there is no temple; therefore there is no sacrificial system. Because there is no sacrificial system, there is no shedding of blood; how, then, do Jewish people (and all people) make atonement for their soul?
Scripture records that Yeshua became the perfect sacrifice when He died on the cross, shedding every last drop of His blood thus taking our sins upon Himself; guaranteeing all who believe in His death and resurrection and who invite Him to become L-rd of their lives, eternal life in heaven.
All you need do is believe in the death and resurrection of Yeshua; confess your sins and repent of them; receive His forgiveness and invite Yeshua to be your L-rd and Saviour.
To do this, please pray the prayer of salvation found at the end of this article.
I end with this: G-d is faithful!
He is faithful to forgive your sins and grant you eternal life in heaven through the work of the Cross and the death and resurrection of Yeshua.
He is faithful to His chosen people – the Jewish people; His chosen land – Israel and His chosen city – Jerusalem.
He is faithful to His covenants – which are everlasting – Genesis 17:7: “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations (the Jewish people), for an everlasting covenant to be God to you and your descendants after you.”
G-d is faithful and full of grace. Put your faith in His grace rather than in the law.
We love you.
Scripture of the week: Titus 2:11-14: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
Thank you Yeshua for Your love for me.
Thank you for giving up Your life on the cross for me and for taking my sins upon Yourself.
I confess that I have sinned.
I repent of my sins and I turn from everything I know to be wrong.
I invite You to come into my life as my Messiah, my Saviour.
By Your grace I will serve You all the remaining years of my life.