Thursday, August 30, 2012

Parashas Ki Tetze "When you go out to war" - Devarim/Deuteronomy 21:10 - 25:19

This week’s parashah begins with the following, "(w)hen you go out to war against your enemies, and HaShem, your God, will deliver him into your hand, and you will capture his captivity;..."

There are two types of wars that one can fight. One is external, usually in the form of joining others in defense of a common cause that has come under attack. At least that is the general form of a "righteous war." Let us realize that this defense can be proactive.

However, there is an internal war that each of us, as individuals and also as a corporate entity in submission to HaShem, wage. Our inner man, the fallen part of our nature, requires being put into submission by our new man, the tzaddik (righteousness) in each of us; that is also required of the nation, the community of His people. As we study this week’s parashah we will notice many of these internal battles.

Lust for a captured woman from an enemy is dealt with first. Among other details, there needs to be a 30-day waiting period before consummating a marriage. Self-control must be self-imposed.

Should a man have more than one wife, the guideline for determining which son receives the blessing must be followed, no matter which, the preferred wife or one of the lesser wive’s son is the firstborn. This is interesting when considering the blessing given to Isaac, and maybe even more pertinent when being applied to Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.

Dealing with an unrighteous son if the prescribed manner must have been difficult for any parent, but it needed to be handled in a proper fashion. Likewise, the requirement for a proper hanging and the discardinng of the body has a specified rule, and this is to protect the Land of Promise.

Continuing we see inner obligations given to us, returning something that we know someone lost, aiding our neighbor with his property, even they manner in which we are to deal with a bird on the nest. He Who knnows each sparrow that falls is concerned for them and us.

As we continue we see how we are to protect people around our property, mixing seeds together in the field, unequally yoking two different animal together for work, and even the tzitzit attached to the clothing.

I could go on delineating each sentence or paragraph, but as we read this parashah we will notice that there are numerous instances of individual and corporate enemies that must be defeated.

Individually we must defeat our own "demons". Corporately it appears that there are times when the most merciful thing to do is to execute judgement. An Edomite or Egyptian who wants to be part of the community is not to be rejected. Nevertheless, if one of them or one of their first two ensuing generations wish to marry an Israelite, it is not permitted. Why not? Wouldn’t we want to look at the situation and say, "But their hearts are committed to HaShem"? I submit that if they were permitted to marry in to the nation of Israel, those tolerating such a ruling would themselves not have a heart committed to Him. The chumas telss us that they must wait until the third generation so that "the baseness of their origins works its way out of their offspring..."

I call you and me to study this parashah, and not just this one, but all of them. The instructions given to us need to be followed. When either judgement or mercy is given unduly, and whether it is done by an individual or corporately, the people or the person have not submitted to the Lord.

Life is a war. At this time, there is no such thing as Heaven on earth. We are given the following instruction by Paul in Epehesians 6:10-18:

       "Finally, my brethern, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His
       might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to
       stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against
       flesh and blood, but against principalitied, against powers, aganst
       the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in
       high places. Wherefore, take unto you the whole armor of God, that
       you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to
       stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girded about with truth,
       and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod
       with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield
       of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the
       wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit,
       which is the Word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication
       in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perserverance and
       supplication for all saints;".

We, as is true for everyone, have enemies without and enemies within. Instructions have been given and received as to how to prepare for battle. We know what we are to wear as we prepare for and head into the fray. We need to be obedient, for if we "submit (y)ourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:17). What will obedience and preparation bring? A promise. To paraphrase the first verse of this week’s reading, when we go out to war against our inner and outer enemies, HaShem, our God, will deliver them into our hands, and we will capture their captivity. May it be so for each of us.

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