Ki Teitzei 5772 – Gilayon #764

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Parshat Ki Tetseh

Should you go out to battle against your enemies

and the Lord your God give him in your hand

and you take captives from him,

and you see among the captives a woman

of comely features and you desire her

and take her for yourself as wife




Take her for yourself as wife – The Torah is making a concession to human

weakness [yetzer ha'ra],

for if the Holy One does not permit her to him, he will take her despite the

prohibition, but if he does marry her, ultimately he will hate her, for the

text follows with "If a person has two wives, etc" and in the end

there will be born to him a wayward and rebellious son. This explains the juxtaposition

of these topics.


ibid., ibid.)


This book also includes the law concerning

the beautiful captive woman. You know their [our Sages] dictum: 'The Torah only

speaks in consideration of concupiscence'. Nevertheless this commandment

includes an exhortation to noble moral qualities, which excellent men must

acquire in a way I shall indicate. For though his concupiscence overcomes him

and restraint is impossible for him, he must obligatorily bring her to a hidden

place; as it says: Home to thine house. And as

[the Sages] have explained, he is not permitted to do her violence during the

war. And he is not allowed sexual intercourse with her for the second time

before her grief has calmed down and her sorrow has been quieted. And she

should not be forbidden to grieve, to be disheveled, and to weep; as the text

says: And she shall bewail her father and her mother, etc. For those who

grieve find solace in weeping and in arousing their sorrow until their bodily

forces are too tired to bear this affection of the soul; just as those who

rejoice find solace in all kinds of play. Therefore the Law has had pity on her

and gave her the possibility to do so until she is weary of weeping and of

grieving. You know that he can have sexual intercourse while she is still a

Gentile. She may also, for thirty days in public, profess her religion, even in

an idolatrous cult, and may not during that period be taken to task because of

a belief. Withal if he does not succeed afterwards to convert her to the

statutes of the Law, she may not be sold or treated as a slave. For the Law

safeguards her inviolability on account of her have exposed herself in sexual

intercourse, even if this has happened through a certain act of disobedience – I

refer to her having then been a Gentile – and says withal: Thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast

humbled her. Accordingly it has become clear that this commandment contains

encouragement to a noble moral quality. The reasons for all the commandments

contained in this book have accordingly become clear.

 (Rambam, The Guide of the

Perplexed, III-41, Pines translation)



Thoughts on "returning losses"

Noa Milikovsky-Marinberg

In his novel, "Shirah", S. Y. Agnon

departs temporarily from the central theme to tell of a garbage collector who

finds a hat in "a Talpiyot garbage bin. Since

the hat was pleasing, he thought that it happened into the garbage by mistake,

for he was not yet acquainted with the Askenazic practice

of throwing things into the garbage even though they have no flaw. He took the

hat and knocked on the door of the hat's owner. The master of the house came

out and asked 'What do you want?' He showed him the hat in his hand and told

the owner of the hat 'I found it in the garbage can, sir, and I am bringing it

to you.' The owner laughed and said to him, 'It's yours,

you can wear it on Shabbat and holydays'. Abba (the garbage collector, father

of another character, N.M.M.) looked again at the hat and told the owner, 'May

you merit many mitzvoth'."

With this anecdote, Agnon summarizes the modern attitude towards

objects in a world ruled by a culture of consumerism, demonstrating with simplicity

how one man's garbage is another man's luxury. The story of the hat illustrates

the social gap (the owner of the hat is the owner of the house is the master)

and the ethnic divide. Agnon has the garbage collector utter the blessing "May

you merit many mitzvoth"  how ironic,

after all, it is he who has merited the mitzvah – returning a lost item.

The passages on returning lost items in our parasha

reveal a reality unlike ours, one in which every animal and mute object is

impermanent and essential. Their loss is a true blow for their owner, occasionally

even a catastrophe. Even in the reality with which we are acquainted there are

losses and their return is very important – the disappearance of a pet, or an object with historical or sentimental value may

deeply pain their owners. With all this, our most essential objects can be

replaced: credit cards can be cancelled and reordered, keys can be duplicated.

The rationale of this mitzvah, as stated in the "Sefer HaChinuch" is simple (Mitzvah 538): 'The reason for this mitzvah

is obvious, it benefits all and contributes to orderly

society. For forgetfulness is universal, livestock escapes in all directions,

and if this mitzvah is observed by our nation, animals and implements

everywhere in our holy land will be as if always in the owner's possession."

Return of a loss is a kind of minor tikkun

olamrepair of society – and it is with good

reason that the Book of Devarim stresses the sense of

fraternity as part and parcel of the mitzvah through repeated use of the

word "your brother", including the situation where "your brother

is not close to you and you do not know who he may be". In the utopia

minor described by the author of the Sefer HaChinuch, the loser need not fear, because his animal or

vessel is safely guarded by someone who is as if a brother to him, as if they

were with himself.

Twice the Torah urges us not to ignore the ox or the sheep "slipping

away" employing a unique verb rarely used in the Bible. The use of the verb

"to ignore" – once in the reflexive mode– leads us, as is usual with

this conjugation, to understand that under discussion is an act which one does

to himself, with himself. This is to say – by ignoring, you are also ignored

[lit. 'disappear' – K.G.]. In the inability to see the

lost thing, in the failure to take responsibility, there is a diminution of

self. The person makes believe that "he wasn't here', as though he did not

see and did not hear the distress of the other, in the words of Rashi: "to hide your eyes as though you did not see

it." In the Biblical reality, the loss of something constitutes distress.

The text, employing identical wording, continues to the next command: "You

shall not see your brother's donkey or his ox falling on the way and ignore

them. You shall surely raise them up with him". The continuum of mitzvoth

of returning lost items and assistance to an animal collapsing on the way

appeared earlier in the Book of Shemot, much more

succinctly (Shemot

23:4-5): "Should you encounter your enemy's ox or his donkey

straying, you must surely return it to him. Should you see your adversary's

donkey sprawling under its load and would hold back from assisting, you shall

surely assist him." Comparison of the two sources, dealt with extensively

by sages and commentators, reveals that the commandments in Shemot

deal with the responsibility for animals belonging to the enemy and adversary,

not to the brother, and Chazal expounded that the wording

of the commandment in the Book of Shemot is intended

to encompass the lost item of the enemy (Sifri Devarim). The emphasis

on the enemy is liable to lead to the conclusion that at the heart of the

mitzvoth as they appear in Shemot is the desire to

help the animals. People may hate and threaten each other, but why should the

beasts pay the price? We are not to include them in our petty accounts, but are

rather to understand their suffering and help them, to return them to a safe

place where food is found, to lighten their load. Perhaps this (too) is the

reason why the garment is not mentioned in the Book of Shemot.

Its appearance in Devarim emphasizes the possibility

that in Devarim the emphasis moves from lightening

the situation of the animal to responding to human distress.

The verb "to ignore" appears again in Isaiah 58:7: "When

you see the naked, to cloth him, and not to ignore your own skin." One can

imagine that the same situation is being dealt with, only the point of view has

changed. In Devarim, someone finds a garment, a

covering, and he is required to watch over it until "your brother inquires

for it". The passage in Isaiah speaks of one who has somehow lost his

garment; the prophet recalls the bond of flesh, paralleling the tie of fraternity.

The unclothed's flesh which is revealed is our flesh,

we may not ignore it. We, in personality and flesh, must be present.

The way lost items are returned has changed beyond recognition since

the Biblical era, but there will always be losses. People lose their source of

livelihood, their home, sometimes their dignity. The power of routine and anesthetization

to seeing distress causes us to ignore, to look aside, to

disappear. Chazal formulated the spirit of the mitzvah

in the following simple words: "And you shall return it [lit. 'him'] to him" – you shall return himself to him". (Sifre Devarim).

In the spirit of the mitzvah we are enjoined to identify these losses

and these losers, and, regardless of the difficulty, not to ignore them.

Noa Milikovsky-Marinberg,

mother of two sons, teaches art in Himmelfarb H.S.

and the University

High School. She is

completing her M.S. in Culture Studies in the Hebrew U.



When you reap your harvest in

your field and forget a sheaf in the field: an Unintentional Commandment

It happened that a certain pious

man forgot a sheave in his field and he told his son: "Go and sacrifice

for me a bull as a burnt offering and a bull for a peace offering."

He asked him: "Father, why

did you see fit to rejoice more in the fulfillment of this commandment than of

all the other commandments in the Torah?"

He told him: "The

Omnipresent gave them all the other commandments of the Torah to perform

intentionally; but this one is performed unintentionally, for if we had acted willingly before the Omnipresent, we would

not have an opportunity to perform this commandment. Rather, it says, when you reap, etc. and Scripture established

a blessing [in reward] for its performance. This is a kal vahomer! If someone did not intend to

perform the commandment yet performed it is considered as if he performed it, all

the more so someone who intended to perform it and did perform it!

(Tosefta Pe'ah 3:14)


Anticipation of Reward: Incentive or Obstacle?

There are mitzvoth

that are rewarded with wealth, and there are mitzvoth that are rewarded with

honor; what is the reward for this mitzvah? If you have no children, I will

give you children. From where do we know this? It is written, Send, yes,

send away the mother – and

what is the reward you reap? And

take the offspring for yourself.

(Devarim Rabba, 6)


Aher [Elisha ben Abuya] saw a person climb to

the top of a palm tree on Shabbat, take the mother together with the fledglings,

and climb down safely. Immediately following the Shabbat, he saw one climb to

the top of a palm, take the fledgling, send away the mother, descend, be bitten

by a snake, and die. He said: it is written (Devarim 22) "Send, yes, send away the mother

and take the offspring for yourself, so that you may fare well and have a long

life." Where is the welfare

of this person? Where is his long life? He was unaware that Rabbi Akiva had expounded "So

that you fare well"– in that

world of total good;"and

have a long life "

– in that long-lasting world."

(Kohellet Rabba 7)


"Take Care Against Anything Evil": Ethical Behavior in Times

of Ordeal

"When a camp

goes out to battle" Even though you go out of the boundaries

of routine family and civic life when you are in a military camp prepared for

war against you enemies (the Sifrei emphasizes "against

your enemies"you wage war against your enemies". The

Torah assumes that you will fight only those who have shown themselves to be

your enemies, that you suffered from their fathers and anticipated hostile

acts, therefore even when you attack them, take care of yourself; these words

negate all wars of conquest), and therefore even when you are in a military

camp, where moral constraints are easily loosened and the goal of war itself

contributes to unbridled coarseness – even then "Take care against

anything evil"– do not cease to test yourself as you practice

self-control, and be careful to protect yourself "against anything



Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, Commentary on Devarim 23:10)





Readers write

registration number 5708. I am writing in reaction to the

caricature which appeared in Issue 761 of "Shabbat Shalom".

In the

caricature appear Jews wearing chareidi-style hats

sitting at the Western Wall reciting Lamentations. One says to another "The

8:45 flight has express check-in, I've reserved glatt

meals, we'll meet at the duty-free".

The drawing,

like the caption, is directed against ultra-Orthodox Jews.

I unabashedly

admit: I found it difficult to read these things particularly in the Tisha B'Av issue, which concluded

with the well-known saying "we will return and be rebuilt… through

baseless love."

It seems to

me to be improper for a publication with the heading "Shalom" to

devote its first page to hatred of the other, even he does wear black clothes,

even if he eats glatt, and even if he does not belong

to "us".

In general,

beating on the chest of others, and a caricature intends to correct them – but not ourselves – does not impress me so much. Perhaps if the

distinguished illustrator and we ourselves would search the conversations in "our"

synagogues and by "our" youth at the Western Wall, we would discover

a few conversations which, if we look, we could see "our shame".

I am writing

this letter because this is the second illustration this year directed against


With blessings, Uzi Fuchs – Kfar Adumim


Harry Langbeheim responds:

Thank you for

your remarks regarding the Shabbat Chazon caricature.

There was certainly no intention on my part to insult anybody.

A few points

in support of the freedom of visual expression:


(1): The proportion of Hareidi Jews who pray

regularly at the Western Wall is high; a glance at "Western Wall live

online" shows most of the visitors wearing black clothes.


(2: In the year 5772, I published

43 caricatures in "Shabbat Shalom". In five of them appear Hareidi Jews in traditional garb.


(3): Hareidi Jews make up 8.5% of the

Israeli population, in Jerusalem,

34%. From this it can be seen that I do not give affirmative action to any

particular sector; the main aim of the caricature is to evoke a smile. The bein hazemanim ["intermediary

days" — summer break between Yeshiva semesters] is the

season for vacations and trips abroad for synagogue-goers, those who wear black

clothes and those who wear white shirts, those with the shtreimel

and those with the knit-kippot. May we hope for the

realization of the prophecy we read during the "seven Shabbatot

of consolation": "The voice of your watchmen- they raised a voice,

together they shall sing, for eye to eye they shall see when the Lord returns

to Zion .(Isaiah 52,8)"

Harry Langbeheim



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