Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ki Teitzei - "When you go out" Deuteronomy/Devarim 21:10 - 25:19

"Who is my neighbor?"  Surely we remember this question being asked of Yeshua (Lk. 10:29), and just as certainly we remember His reply.

As I read this portion I could not help but think of the neighbor and of my neighbor's dignity.  The dignity of our neighbor is pre-eminent.  Our neighbor is not just someone we know.  In 22:1 of our reading we see what is to be done if we find our neighbor's ox, sheep, or goat.  We are to return them.  Obviously we must at that point know to whom they belong.  Whether we recognize the animals or there is a brand of some type on them, we are to return them to our neighbor whom we can identify.

But what about an animal that just shows up out of nowhere?  The following verses (22:2 - 3) immediately presents us with the answer, and this answer concerns anything that we find that has obviously been lost.  We are to take care of it until we are able to return it to its rightful owner.  We are not to hide it, nor if it is an animal, are we to use it for a sacrifice or for food.  I believe that they and we are also obligated to make it be known that we have found this particular item.  Essentially we are to make posters and hang them on telephone poles and in grocery store bulletin boards so as to afford the owner an opportunity to reclaim his property.  We could be responsible for this item/animal for quite a while, especially if we lived near Jerusalem and the owner only came to the area during the pilgrimage feasts.

There are also other areas of protecting dignity that appear in our reading.  Though I am not going to list all of them, I will list quite a few:

a desired captive of war, a hated wife, parents of a rebellious child, an
        individual hung for his indiscretions, a mother bird and her eggs or her
        young, men or women whose spouses have gone astray, Edomites and
        Egyptians, having a healthy place for going to the bathroom, and
        causing a brother to pay back anything with interest, making of vows
        (apparently we are also to consider HaShem as our neighbor, and why
        not?), and what we may consume when walking through someone's field.

I've actually only gone with the above list through the end of chapter 23, but the list goes on and on as we complete our reading.  Which of these are too burdensome?  I John 5:3 reveals that none of the commandments/instructions/guidelines for living is too burdensome.

My dear brothers and sisters, in the game of baseball there are more than 950 rules, and in American football there are more than 1,100.  Does anyone complain that the umpires and referees are being too legalistic when they penalize a team or player for an infraction of the rules?  Rest assured that the opponents and their fans do not think so.  Do these fans complain when the rules are not enforced?  Absolutely!  How many complaints have been voiced that there are too many rules of life for me to think about?  Well, we only have 613 rules/instructions/guidelines for living that come into play at some point or another.  How many of those earlier questions are asked with a whine in voice and in spirit regarding the 613?

In closing I would like to look at two more Scriptures - Dt. 22:6 - 7 and Ex. 20:12 (also Dt. 5:16).  In these verses which deal with how we treat a mother bird and its young (Dt. 22:6 - 7) and honoring our parents (Ex. 20:12 and Dt. 5:16) we are informed that we will prolong our days by keeping compliance with these directives.  Honoring my parents - that seems like a very important commandment to me, but the little birdies?  Whether it seems like an important directive to me or not, it is obviously an important one to Him, even though many consider it the least of the commandments (Mt. 5:19 NASB - "Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven").

I would posit at this point that if we were to strive to obey all the instructions for life we have been given, each one would, in reality, prolong our days in a most blessed fashion.

May His Name be eternally blessed!

1 comment:

  1. Shalom.. this parsha is actually one of my favourites (aussie way to spell favorites).

    It has three points that I particularly find interesting.

    1. Safety Law; Deut 22:8 - being a safety adviser I still tell people to put edge protection around roofs. hahaha..

    2. Mother bird and egg = long life; Deut 22:7. Brilliant how this appears to be the least of the commandments yet it has the same result as the honouring (aussie spelling for honoring) your mother and father. Long days Amazing

    3. Covering your excrement for holiness; Deut 23:15 - it demonstrates to me that G-d is not only all powerful and mighty and a warrior (very male) but He is also offended at "ewwies" (very female). I mean no disrespect in this but truly He created man AND woman in His own image.