Parshat Ki Teitzei Vol.10 No.1

Date of issue: 9 Elul 5760 -- September 9, 2000

This week's issue of Kol Torah has
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in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Scott Zecher:
celebrating the Bar-Mitzvah
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This week's featured writers:

Rabbi Avi Rosenfeld
Moshe Glasser
Zev Fiegenbaum
Rabbi Howard Jachter
*Shnayim Mikra V'echad Targum*
*NEW* The Best of Kol Torah
-*Yoni Nagler*
Food For Thought
-by *Dani Gross*

Shiluach Hakan
by Rabbi Avi Rosenfeld

One of the many Mitzvot found within Parshat Ki Tetzei is the Mitzva of Shiluach Hakan, sending the mother bird away from her nest before taking her eggs or babies. When describing this Mitzva, the Torah uncharacteristically states: Lemaan Yitav Lecha Vehe'erachta Yamim, anyone who fulfills this seemingly easy Mitzva will be blessed with long life. The Gemara (Kiddushin 39b) points out that long life should not be translated as long life in this world, for many people have kept this Mitzva and unfortunately not attained long life. Rather, anyone who keeps this Mitzva will be granted Aricht Yamim, eternal life, in the World to Come.

The fact that the Torah mentions the reward for this Mitzva is quite striking. Of all the Mitzvot contained within this Perek, why would the Torah single out this one to describe its reward of long life? Rav David Tzvi Hoffman points out that the Mitzva of Kibud Av Vaem, honoring one's parents, is also listed as having the same reward. It seems that the Torah draws a comparison between these two Mitzvot. There is a link between the compassion one must exhibit to his own parents and the honor one must show a mother bird before taking her children or her eggs. If one understands that he must honor an animal, such as the mother bird, he will understand the importance of respecting his parents, who nurture and sustain him on a daily basis.

Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch, in his work Chorev, further explains this connection. The Torah allows, and even encourages, man to enjoy this world. We are commanded to say Berachot on the various items we enjoy. A person is allowed to take and enjoy a bird's eggs but is first commanded to show respect for the mother. Just as a Beracha is said immediately before enjoying any item, one is commanded to fulfill the Mitzva of Shilach Hakan before enjoying the eggs. Based on this idea, it seems that the Mitzvot of Shiluach Hakan and Kibud Av Vaem are not just about respecting parents but respecting Hashem as well. We should understand that Hashem has commanded us in this fashion, and we should perform this act for Him.

When discussing the Mitzva of Kan Tzipor , the Gemara in Berachot (33) says that it is forbidden to pray that Hashem, Who is compassionate even to the Kan Tzipor , should have compassion towards people. The Gemara explains that Hashem commands us to do the Mitzvot independent of what appear to be humanistic and rational reasons. It seems the Gemara does not reject that certain Mitzvot are logically correct. Indeed, there is a group of Mitzvot referred to by Rav Saadia Gaon as Shichliut, Mitzvot based on human intuition. However, it is important to understand that we fulfill these Mitzvot because they are Mitzvot and are thus commanded by Hashem. While the Mitzvot of Kibud Av Vaem and Shiluach Hakan are logical, we must understand that we perform these Mitzvot for Hashem. It is for this reason that we are told the reward for these Mitzvot. The Torah is stressing that it is Hashem who rewards us for doing these logical Mitzvot. As Rashi points out, if the Torah rewards us for performing the seemingly easy (and logical) Mitzva ofShilach Hakan, certainly we will be rewarded for doing Mitzvot that are harder.

The Fuitive Slave Law of 2486
by Moshe Glasser

Parshat Ki Teitzei tells us not to send a fugitive slave back to his master (23:16-17). Instead, we are to treat him with kindness. While God is helping the unfortunate slave, the owner did pay for the slave, and that makes the slave the owner's property. Wouldn't the laws of Hashavat Aveida require a person to return an escaped slave?

This law is all the more fascinating when one recalls the slavery laws in many countries, including the United States. There were extremely strict fugitive slave laws, and even during the Civil War (until 1863), Union soldiers returned escaped slaves to their Confederate masters.

The solution to this oddity is that Judaism looks at slavery very differently than any other culture. If a Jew is made a slave, it means that he has stolen something and cannot repay his debt, or he is too poor to support himself. In both cases, slavery is actually a form of debt relief, helping the poor man by making him useful to another member of society. Also, if the laws of a Jewish slave are examined, one finds that a slave must be treated well: he must be fed, clothed, and not overworked. If a master strikes and maims his slave, the slave goes free because a violent man is considered unfit by the Torah to own a slave.

One must also consider why a slave would run away in a Jewish society. A slave by definition would be too poor to support himself outside of slavery; after all, poverty and the inability to support himself is what drove the man to slavery in the first place. He would be required by his own hunger to seek out his master soon anyway. This is why the Torah requires us to be charitable and hospitable to a slave. The only reason a slave would run from his master would be if the slave were in danger beyond his own starvation. It is this slave the Torah excuses from returning to his master, showing that the Torah sees a man violent and cruel enough to drive a slave away (and possibly to the slave's own death from starvation) as unworthy to own a slave.

We see in this law the kindness and generosity inherent in the Torah. Even a slave, seen by all other cultures as the lowliest of men, has his rights and his dignity protected by the Torah.

Internal Wars
by Zev Feigenbaum

Why does the Pasuk say, Ki Teitzei Lamilchama Al Oyvecha, "When you go out to war on your enemy," when it should really say Ki Teitzei Im Oyvecha Bamilchama, "When you will be at war with your enemy?"

One possible answer is that we read this Parsha during the month of Elul, a time for Teshuva. This Pasuk speaks not only of a physical war but of a war that is both physical and spiritual. The spiritual war is between a person's Yetzer Hara and his Yetzer Tov. The Zohar compares the inner struggle of a man during prayer to a time of war. The Yetzer Hara tries very hard to stop a person from praying with Kavana and from doing Mitzvot. One must fight very hard in that war in order to win. Gemara Shabbat (104a) says, Ba Letaher Mesayim Oto, "One who wants to purify himself is assisted from heaven." The Torah is assuring us that if we want to go out to war, Ki Tetzei Lamilchama Al Oyvecha, with our Yetzer Tov, we will win the battle because Hashem will help us.

The Best of Kol Torah

{Editors' Note: To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Kol Torah, we will be presenting our audience with some articles from earlier volumes of Kol Torah. Yoni Nagler was a managing editor of Kol Torah.}

Vol.7 No.1

Sensitivity Training
by Yoni Nagler, '98

Parshat Ki Teitzei contains many Mitzvot that deal with issues concerning man's sensitivity towards others. The beginning of this Parsha mentions female captives. Jewish soldiers might become attracted to them and therefore wish to marry them. To prevent a marriage that would stem from pure lust as opposed to love, she must make herself unattractive. One should learn from here to control his physical desires, and only then can he make a sensible decision concerning marriage. Marriage based on physical attraction alone is a foundation built on shaky ground.

Unfortunately, it does not end there. Rashi points out that if two people make a union purely out of physical desires, their children will grow up in a home where there is no love, become scarred by this, and therefore become rebellious (Ben Sorer Umoreh). From this, the Torah goes on to say that one must bury an executed person on the day of his execution. Leaving the dead hanging is degrading to Hashem's name. Since everyone is created in Hashem's image, it is similar to a king's evil twin brother being left hanging on the gallows, where everybody sees the corpse and it appears as if the king is the one hanging. Why is this Mitzva mentioned here? To show that one sin leads to another: One who marries out of lust may have a rebellious child, and that child might be executed for his evil deeds.

Perhaps one of the most important sensitivity-training Mitzvot that we have is Shiluach Hakan, sending away the mother bird before taking its fledglings or eggs. The reward for this Mitzva is, "that it will be good for you and your days will be lengthened." The first part of the Beracha refers to the rewards one will receive in this world, and the second part refers to the rewards in Olam Haba. The Chachamim (Kiddushin 40b) teach that the only rewards we reap in this world are those that concern human relations. What we learn from this is that one who can develop compassion for a bird surely can develop compassion for human beings.

Regarding compassion to animals, animals of different kinds may not be harnessed together in order to work. If an animal that chews its cud is placed next to one that does not, the animal which does not chew its cud will see the other "eating" while it cannot.

Also included in this Parsha are the Mitzvot of Get and Yibbum. When a man dies before having any children, there is a Mitzva for his brother to marry his widow. The firstborn child of this levirate marriage is considered the deceased's child. This greatly merits the deceased.

One must be extremely careful regarding business dealings. Unfortunately, some would rather make a couple of extra dollars than deal honestly within the means of the Torah. A man who cheats in business will be punished, while Hashem says that He will reward those who are meticulously honest with money.

If one conducts himself in a manner of Derech Eretz and studies Torah, his days will be lengthened and it will become difficult for him to sin. As the Gemara says in Kiddushin, Vehacht Hameshalesh Lo Bimehera Yenateik, "A three ply cord is not easily severed."

Food for Thought
by Dani Gross

1) Rashi (21:11) says that members of the army of Bnai Yisrael were permitted to marry a female prisoner of war so that they would not come to have illicit relations with them against Hashem's wishes. When Bnai Yisrael were conquering Eretz Yisrael, the soldiers were also given permission to eat the pigs they found in the enemies' houses. This too was so they would not do so against Hashem's wishes. Why were Bnai Yisrael were given permission to do these two things even though, under other circumstances, these things are not permitted?

If you have a response to this question, please contact us at Responses may be published upon agreement of the provider.

Staff at time of publication:
Editors-in-Chief: Avi-Gil Chaitovsky, Dani Gross
Managing Editors: Moshe Glasser, Zevi Goldberg
Publication Editor: Daniel Wenger
Business Manager: Yechiel Shaffer
Staff: Josh Dubin, Zev Feigenbaum, Michael Humphrey, Binyamin Kagedan, Yair Manas, Uriel Schechter, Yoni Shenkman, Gil Stein, Uri Westrich
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Faculty Advisor: Rabbi Howard Jachter

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