Ki Teitzei / When You Go Out
HafTorah portion Isaiah 54:1-10
Brit Chadasha 1 Corinthians 5:1-5
The Master Plan…
For every action there is a reaction. Even the smallest of actions creates a reaction. The range and variety of Parshat Ki-Tetze is astounding. This parsha seems to jump from one topic to the next. It deals with both the mundane and the unusual, darting from topic to topic, from war to marriage from housing to clothing, from weights and measures to Amalek. There is the story of the rebellious son, who is sentenced to death - and then the daily law of tzitzit. There are the laws of rape alongside the instruction to assist on a roadside breakdown. The mixture of all these laws is amazing. Which leads us to question the order of Ki Tetzei. How do we link everything together? What is the master plan?
There seems to be no order in and between the listing of the Laws within this parsha. As we see within the chapters.
Devarim 21:10-23 Laws of family life
Devarim 22:1-12 Laws of kindness between an individual and other human beings
Devarim 22:13-23:9 Laws of the sanctity of marriage
Devarim 23:10-24:22 Laws of holiness and correct conduct
Devarim 25:1-19 A general group of societal laws.
Yet, we see that "One mitzva leads to another mitzva; a single sin to yet another sin" as The Mishna states and explains why one should "run" to a light mitzva and "flee" from a light transgression. The reason is that one mitzva will lead to another etc. There is also a second clause in the Mishna " the reward of a mitzva is a mitzva and the recompense of a sin is sin.” Doesn’t God reward our mitzvas with an opportunity to do another. Our action causes a reaction.
In Deuteronomy 22:1-12 between the law of helping an ox or donkey, men and women not cross dressing, the parapet, mixing seeds, plowing with an ox and a donkey yoked, the wool and linen, and the law of tzitzits; is the smallest of mitzva of the mother bird. There is a negative command and a positive command back to back with the promise of long life. ‘If you come across a bird’s nest beside the road, either in a tree or on the ground, and the mother is sitting on the young or on the eggs, do not take the mother with the young. 7 You may take the young, but be sure to let the mother go, so that it may go well with you and you may have a long life.’ Deuteronomy 22:6-7.
So, what is the Master plan within KiTetzei? God grants each person the ability to keep the Torah, just as a master gives his servant the tools with which to carry out his job. His plan is that we simply obey even the most mundane laws within the Torah portions. The question might be asked: What difference does it make if we take the eggs from under the mother bird or when she is gone? The answer would be compassion.
God’s chesed began in the Torah. During the encounter with Adam and Eve, God had the authority and the opportunity to begin again, to annihilate the two for their rebellion and deception. He had every reason to dismiss the serpent to dust for his deception and twisting of The Word. But he showed compassion and mercy on the three. But His chesed, His compassion began even before that. During creation God made a planet, the earth for man with all it’s goodness for man. And in creation was the birth of Shabbat, showing the infinite depth of His mercy for man to experience shalom.
Ki Teitze / When You Go Out
This parsha begins with an instruction regarding going to war: ‘When you go out…’ Deuteronomy 21:10 states: ‘When you go out to war against your enemies and the Lord God delivers them into your hands…’
Notice it is God who delivers the enemies. It is not our vengeance that wins the war, but rather God that causes His people to gain victory. There are many enemies in our lives; some are other people, true. But mostly the enemy in our own life is us. Hosea 14 is a good reminder for us to return/teshuva to God and His ways. ‘Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.’ Hosea 14:1
Lamentations 3:40 ‘Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the Lord.’
Joel 2:13 ‘And rend your heart and not your garments. Now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil.’
Another enemy in our life is death. But through the Messiah, we have gained victory.
1 Corinthians 15:54-58 ‘So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Yeshua.58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.’
In Deuteronomy 21:22-23 there is the commandment ‘“If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.’
Often this verse is used against the Messiah. The argument is; how can a savior be cursed? Messiah wasn’t the curse, nor was He cursed. He was purging the land, resetting it. This act now gives us the responsibility and victory to not enter into those sins and curses again. We are free from the curse of sin and death as Rabbi Shaul states in Galatians 3:13. ‘Messiah has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 1 Peter 2:22-25 states: ‘“Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth” 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.’
Yeshua’s body was removed before night fall and placed in the tomb, John 19:38, Matthew 27:57, Luke 23:50 and Acts 13:29.
Redeeming us from the curse of the law of sin and death is not releasing us from the blessing of living in obedience to Torah; rather it is bringing us back to Torah in a clean state.
In Deuteronomy 23:21-23 we have the instructions regarding vows: ‘When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you. 22 But if you abstain from vowing, it shall not be sin to you. 23 That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth.’
Flippantly, we make vows daily, and often we aren’t even aware of the words we speak. When we offer a pledge, or a membership – we are making a vow. When we speak words of ‘I will’ or ‘I won’t’ we are making a vow. When we join a church and its bylaws, we are making a vow, Clubs, groups, friendships, anything that takes our words of an oath, is a vow.
Numbers 30:1-2 ‘Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of the people of Israel, saying, “This is what the Lord has commanded. If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.’
James 5:12 ‘But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.’
Ecclesiastes 5:5 ‘It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.’
Matthew 5:33-37 ‘“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.’
But what about vows to God? Psalm 65:1 ‘To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. A Song. Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed.’ Jonah 1:16 ‘Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.’
Our vows to God should be songs of praise, words of love and adoration, of gratefulness and thankfulness.
‘In God (I will praise His word),
In the Lord (I will praise His word),
11 In God I have put my trust;
I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
12 Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God;
I will render praises to You,
13 For You have delivered my soul from death.
Have You not kept my feet from falling,
That I may walk before God
In the light of the living?’
Ki Teitzei / When You Go Out
This parsha contains seventy-four of the 613 Torah commands. These include in chapter 21 the mitzvoh concerning the female captives, the firstborn inheritance rights, and chapter 21 closes with the Torah command concerning a burial. ‘If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.’
A Messiah should not hang on a cross, accursed by God and men, this was the central thought. The soldiers mocked Yeshua and others sneered: ‘ And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.” 36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.” 38 And an inscription also was [written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” They thought: ‘The one who was crucified and cursed could not have been the Messiah.’
Kefa/Peter knows this paradox when he boldly tells the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Council, that “the God of our fathers raised Yeshua from the dead - whom you had killed by hanging Him on the tree.” (Acts 5:30; 10:39; 1 Peter 2:24). So does Rabbi Shaul/Paul who “preaches a crucified Messiah, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to gentiles” in 1 Corinthians 1:23. And in Galatians 3:13 he declares: “The Messiah redeemed us from the curse of the Torah by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ´Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree´.” Paul is quoting from this parsha.
Both Peter and Paul use the phrase “hang on a tree” which we read in Ki Teitzei. Paul, raised as a Pharisee in Jerusalem, knew this and knew that Yeshua hung accursed on the cross. But the Rabbi Shaul gives the correct interpretation. He knows that God has raised Yeshua from the dead and thereby demonstrated that He is the Messiah, meaning that the curse Yeshua carried on the cross was not His own, it was ours, the sins of the world. And by willingly taking the curse of the Torah of the law of sin and death on our behalf, He redeems us all from the curse of sin and death. Hebrews 9:13-10:18.
Joseph from Armithea also knew the Scriptures as we understand in Matthew 27:57-60, Mark 16:42, Luke 23:50-54 and John 19:38 as he removes the body of Yeshua. Deuteronomy 21:23 ‘… his body shall not remain overnight on the tree…’
Deuteronomy 22 contains the laws of morality and laws concerning sexual morality. In Deuteronomy 22:6-7 contains what is said to be the easiest of the commands of the Torah. The Midrash states, “There is no easier mitzvah to perform than sending away the mother bird from the nest. And what is its reward? ‘So that you will benefit and you will live long.” Yeshua in Matthew 5:19 emphasizes that all the commandments in the Torah are critically important, even the ‘lesser’ ones: “Whoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and teach others to do so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whoever shall do and teach them shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Sobering thought.
In Deuteronomy 23:7-8 God gives unexpected commands against hate, both of which are surprising. The first one: “Do not despise the Egyptian, because you were a stranger in his land.” The Egyptians enslaved the Israelites, and planned a slow genocide, and then refused to let them go despite the plagues that were devastating the land. Are these reasons not to hate? The other side, the Egyptians had initially provided a refuge for the Israelites at a time of famine. They had honored Joseph and made him second-in-command. The evils they committed against them under in Exodus 1:8: “a new king who did not know of Joseph” were because of Pharaoh himself, not the people as a whole. Besides which it was the daughter of that Pharaoh who had rescued Moses and adopted him. The Torah also makes a clear difference between the Egyptians and the Amalekites. The Amalekites were destined to be enemies of Israel, but not the former. In a later age Isaiah in 19:20-21 would make a remarkable prophecy, that a day would come when the Egyptians would suffer their own oppression. They too, would cry out to God, who would rescue them just as he had rescued the Israelites.
The second one is the command “Do not despise an Edomite, because he is your brother.” Genesis 25:23 implies that there will be forever conflict between these two nations. Malachi 1:2-3 states: ’Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?’ declares the Lord. ‘Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated …”Why then does Moses tell us not to hate an Edomite? The answer is simple. Esau hats Jacob, but it does not mean that Jacob should hate Esau. To answer hate with hate is to be dragged down to the level of your opponent.
God makes it clear throughout the Torah however, that we are not to be influenced by, or to succumb to those against God and His ways. We are to be willing to fight the enemies of God but do not let ourselves be defined by them or become like them. We acknowledge the evil men do;
Psalm 97:10 ‘You who love the LORD, hate evil! He protects the lives of his godly people and rescues them from the power of the wicked.’
Romans 12:9 ‘Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.’
Proverbs 13:5 ‘The righteous hates falsehood, but the wicked brings shame and disgrace.’
Proverbs 8:13 ‘The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil…’
But stay focused on the good and the love that is in God and His people. This is reiterated in the Renewed Covenant.
1 John 4:19-20 ‘We love because God first loved us. Whoever says, “I love God,” but hates his brother is a liar. The one who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love the God whom he has not seen.’
Proverbs 10:12 ‘Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.’
1 John 4:7 ‘Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God.’
May you be blessed as you study Ki Teitzei~ Rabbi Jay Howard