Parshah of the Week

This week’s Parashah is Ki Teizei – Shabbat 14 September 2019

This section begins with a discussion regarding female captives of war, and lays down the conditions under which a soldier may marry a captive. The right of a firstborn son to a double portion of his father’s inheritance is then detailed. The section concludes with the procedure for dealing with an aberrantly rebellious child.

Commandments discussed in this section: Speedy burial of the deceased, returning a lost object to its owner, aiding a neighbour when his animal has fallen because of its burden, the prohibition against cross-dressing, and the obligation to send away a mother bird before taking its chicks or eggs.

Some commandments discussed in this section: Building a safety fence around a flat roof; the prohibitions against sowing mixtures of seeds, ploughing with a mixed pair of animals, or wearing a garment which contains a mixture of wool and linen (shatnez); wearing tzitzit; the penalty for a husband who defames his wife; the punishment for adultery; the penalty for rape; and certain prohibited marriages.

Some commandments discussed in this section: maintaining pure and hygienic army encampments, impurity resulting from seminal emissions, prohibition against prostitution, prohibition against lending with interest, and the obligation to honour vows.

This section details the right of field workers to eat from the produce they are harvesting. The Torah then briefly discusses marriage and the bill of divorce. A divorced couple cannot remarry if the woman has been remarried to another man (and divorced again or widowed) in the interim.

More mitzvot: A newlywed man is exempt from military service for a full year. It is forbidden to accept utensils used to prepare food as loan security or to forcibly take a debtor’s possessions as collateral, and a poor man’s security must be temporarily returned to him on a daily basis. Kidnapping is a capital offense. We are commanded to always remember that Miriam was afflicted with tzara’at for speaking badly about Moses.

We are forbidden to withhold or delay a worker’s wages. Relatives’ testimony is inadmissible in a court of law. Various mandatory gifts for the poor are discussed. The procedure for corporal punishment is outlined. The mitzvah of Levirate marriage (yibum) is introduced: if a married childless man dies, his brother is obligated to marry the widow. If the brother refuses to marry the widow, he and she go through a chalitzah ceremony, which frees her to marry whomever she wishes. We are instructed to maintain accurate weights and measures. The reading ends with the mitzvah to remember Amalek’s evil deed, ambushing the Israelites on their way from Egypt.