Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah # 49 Ki Tetze (When you go out) D’varim (Deuteronomy) 21:10-25:19
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 52:13-54:1-10
B’rit Chadashah: Mark 12:18-27
This parashah begins and ends with a discussion of going out to war. Between these narratives are 74 mitzvot that address various laws of the covenant. These commands address private issues in civil and domestic life in contrast to the previous parashah that addressed public matters that affected the entire nation. There are more than six times the number of commands in this parashah than the average one.
We can easily deduce at least one of the reasons our country and society today is beginning to suffer the plagues, famines, droughts, pestilence, and other signs of the end times. We can scroll down the list of the mitzvot listed and discussed in this parashah and compare what G-d commands in our relationship to each other to what we are witnessing today. Capital offenses required execution and burial before sundown. Today convicted criminals are housed and fed at the expense of the nation. Some may be sentenced to death, but this sentence is not completed for many years. Failure to bury someone before sunset defiled the land, so Y’hoshua took care when he buried the bodies of the Canaanite kings.
Several domestic laws follow that mainly address property. G-d’s Word requires decency and kindness regarding lost and fallen animals, not wearing clothing of the opposite sex, and a fallen bird’s nest. To kill a mother along with her young was common in war situations, even commanded by G-d in some cases. In the case of a bird’s nest with chicks or eggs, the mother is to be chased away, rather than eaten with the young. The laws for man in the areas of kindness and compassion extend to all life.
The next section brings our attention to safety; today known as liability insurance. It would seem to be common sense to build a low wall around a roof to prevent injury, but as we witness today, common sense is no longer common.
Mixing two types of seed or wearing garments made of two different types of material are forbidden. This concept of mixing things extends to using two types of animals to plow. Using an ox and a donkey together were forbidden. This example provides a clear illustration of the rationale for not mixing various things such as clothing, animals hooked to a plow, and sowing different seeds together. Mixtures of the mentioned combinations and many that are not mentioned always result in compromise. Using a donkey and ox to plow together results in an increased burden on one of the animals and uneven plowing due to the various strengths of the animals. These animals are unequally yoked. This concept may be applied to marriage. A Torah observant individual married to a pagan will result in compromise to either G-d or a pagan god thought to be the “same” as the G-d of Israel by the pagan worshipper. Frustration and disappointment with such behaviors on the part of the Torah observant believer will compromise their mental and physical health. The issue of an unequally yoked couple is addressed by Sha’ul (Paul) in 1 Cor. 7:12-16. The point is that we are to strive for purity in all things as much as possible from the food we eat, the clothes we wear, our thoughts and deeds in our daily life, including our devotion to the One G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Although the commands, instructions, and laws may seem to be randomly listed throughout this parashah this is not unusual for a spoken discourse. Topically arranged we see family life, compassion and justice, the congregation of Israel, and promises and warnings. G-d’s goodness and mercy along with warnings are described in tandem with the instructions and admonitions in which the Israelites (true believers) are encouraged to consistently demonstrate wholehearted devotion to G-d. Appropriate treatment and compassion for the destitute, orphans and widows is paramount in G-d’s economy, counted as righteousness (24:13). Acts of kindness to the needy were and are acceptable to G-d when performed by one who follows G-d. A prolonged life and prosperity (things will go well with you) are promised to one who carefully regarded the law concerning the treatment of a mother bird and her chicks or eggs. Of course, this example extends to compassion and kindness in all areas of life. In contrast, warnings are described for those who mistreat or neglect the needs, even laborers. Wages were to be given by sunset for the days work. Equal weights and measures were to be used reflecting last week’s parashah of which the theme is justice. If a needy individual to whom someone lent something was unable to pay, the collateral had to be returned at sunset so the individual could wear his garment at night and bless the one who made the loan. This deed was and is considered righteous before G-d (24:10-13). Keep in mind, this is talking about making a loan to a neighbor and not everyone who wants something from us as we too often experience today. We must be discerning and evaluate every solicitation individually.
There is also a stark warning about taking care to deal with an outbreak of tzara’at, “be careful to observe and do just what the cohanim, who are the L’vi’im teach you. Take care to do as I ordered them. Remember what Adonai your G-d did to Miryam on the road after you left Egypt” (24:8-9). The Israelites are repeatedly reminded that they were once slaves in Egypt, and it was G-d’s mercy that delivered them from bondage. This historical fact was to remain with them as it should with us today as we interact with others. As mercy was shown to the Israelites, so we are to be merciful to our fellowman. Love for our neighbors is to be regulated by G-d who exercises law and grace perfectly.
Finally, G-d “partners” with Israel to blot out evil. After all, Israel is a human extension for G-d to promote righteousness and love throughout the world. Remember that our lives on earth are not about us. We are to hear, internalize, and act upon G-d’s Torah for the betterment of mankind. Recall that Timna, who was the granddaughter of the Horite Se’ir wanted to be the mother of a great nation that would live forever. So, to get into the line of Avraham, she became a concubine to Esav’s son Elifaz. The offspring was Amalek who was the result of a Canaanite and the line of Esav, who traded his birthright for food. Amalek matured into a tribe that had and has no fear of G-d (Deut.25:18) which was demonstrated after the Exodus. While most nations feared Israel because of the witnessed power of G-d in delivering them from Egypt, Amalek preyed upon the elderly, infirm, and children in the read of the formation near R’fidim (Ex.17:8;13-16). So, the L-rd decreed “…blot out all memory of ‘Amalek under heaven. Don’t forget!”
Haftarah: Haftarah: Isaiah 54:1-10
This haftarah is the fifth of seven “Haftarot of Consolation.” Forsaken Jerusalem is compared to a barren woman who grieves as she is bereft of children while watching other nations fawn over their broods. G-d enjoins her to rejoice, for the time will soon come when the Israelites will be returned to the Land, be restored, and proliferate beyond her wildest dreams. Isaiah assures the people that G-d has not forsaken them, even though He has momentarily hidden His face from them. He will gather them from their exile with mercy and will not miss one kernel. That should be a tremendous source of comfort for all true believers. The haftarah compares the final Redemption to the pact G-d made with Noach. Just as He promised Noach there would never be another flood to cover the entire earth, He (G-d) will never rekindle anger toward Israel (all true believers). It is interesting that the matriarchs were barren before G-d intervened to bless their wombs. The lesson to them and us is that G-d holds the key to life, creation, sustenance, and restoration; all of which applies to the nation/children of Israel (Ps. 113:9; Isaiah 54:1).
B’rit Chadashah: Mark 12:18-27
Then some Tz’dukim came to him (Yahshua). They are the ones who say there is no such thing as resurrection, so they put to him a sh’eilah: ‘Rabbi, Moshe wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and have children to preserve the man’s family line. There were seven brothers. The first one took a wife, and when he died, he left no children. Then the second one took her and died without leaving children, and the third likewise, and none of the seven left children. Last of all, the woman also died. In the Resurrection, whose wife will she be? For all seven had her as a wife.”
“Yahshua said to them, ‘Isn’t this the reason that you go astray? Because you are ignorant of both the Tanakh and of the power of G-d? For when people rise from the dead, neither men nor women marry- they are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, haven’t you read in the book of Moshe, in the passage about the bush, has G-d said to him, ‘I am the G-d of Avraham, the G-d of Isaac, and the G-d of Jacob?’ He is G-d not of the dead, but of the living! You are going far astray!”
This passage reminds us that no longer will marriage, gender, race, or ethnicity be an issue in the Resurrection. This applies to us regardless of whether we are resurrected to heaven or for hell. Our souls are a form of energy above and beyond the physical world and understanding of it. The focus of the saved will be to serve YHVH/Yahshua; the focus of the damned will be eternal torment.
Similar to the woman taken captive by the Israelite, we have a choice for now; remain in our pagan world with all the rituals and traditions, or remove our superficial covering and examine our inner selves in isolation from all that is familiar to us, including our past religious teaching if it is inconsistent with G-d’s Torah. In our parashah, the woman had 30 days to consider her life and mourn for her family, separating herself from her reality. The man had 30 days to observe the woman as an appropriate mate. We have no idea how long we have to t’shuva (repent and turn) to the G-d of the living and allow Him to prepare us as an acceptable bride for Yahshua. Let us take advantage of every day and submit ourselves to the Father of the Groom who can make us new and cloth us with the clean, white linen garments of repentance in preparation for the great wedding (Rev. 19:8). This is the season.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart