Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #49: Ki Tetze (When you go out) D’varim (Deuteronomy) 21:10-25-19
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 54:1-10
B’rit Chadashah: Mark 12:18-27
The theme of this week’s parashah is personal responsibility. It would certainly behoove our government officials and anyone responsible for teaching our children to read, internalize, and practice the concepts in these chapters. Just think about how different our world would be if these guidelines were followed! That being said, verse 18-19 may be of particular concern; “If a man has a stubborn, rebellious son who will not obey what his father or mother says, and even after they discipline him he still refuses to pay attention to them; then his father and mother are to take hold of him and bring him out to the leaders of his town, at the gate of that place, and say to the leaders of the town, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he doesn’t pay attention to us, lives wildly, gets drunk.” Then all the men of the town are to stone him to death; in this way you will put an end to such wickedness among you, and all Israel will hear of it and be afraid.”
The rabbis maintain that there is no record of this ever actually happening. There may be two reasons for this if it is true; that the sons were deterred from such rebellious behavior simply by knowing G-d mandated such punishment, or parents did not tell the leaders of the town. It is easy to see that our society is reaping what we have sown as a majority; non-accountability and total tolerance of everything in every context except freedom to openly worship and promote the Torah of G-d.
It is interesting to see the wide range of mandates concerning responsibility and compassion from humans to animals, including such things as taking eggs from a nest. We are to show compassion to a mother bird and let her fly off before taking the eggs. How far we have gone from taking care not to cause a mother bird distress over losing her eggs to some potential mothers killing their children before they are born!
The responsibility is extended to doing everything we can to protect others while that are visiting our homes. We are mandated to build a low wall around our roofs to prevent other from becoming injured (22:8). This is to be done not as an afterthought, but when the hose is built. This is the source for liability insurance. Otherwise, we are held accountable for the death of someone who falls from our “roof.” Unfortunately, there are those who sue honest people for injuries that the plaintiff could have avoided in an attempt to get money. Sadly, we read of many cases of this today in the context of home invaders who sue because they fell through the roofs of the victims. In some cases, they win!
Here is one example:
A homeowner was arrested after a burglar plunged from the balcony of his top-floor flat. The intruder suffered head injuries and is fighting for his life after falling around 30ft on to a concrete path. Later police arrested the owner and are investigating whether the intruder was pushed. The incident happened early on Monday when the victim awoke to find the 43-year-old man rifling through his flat. They argued and the confrontation moved towards the rear window of the flat. The burglar fell from this third floor window It is believed the intruder then smashed the window and clambered out on to a narrow ledge and fell to the ground. The victim phoned police and at around 6.30am officers found the man on the ground outside the smart Victorian apartment block in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, He was taken to hospital with serious head injuries. Officers arrested the victim on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and are trying to establish whether the intruder was forced out of the window. The arrest is expected to fuel arguments about the rights of householders to defend themselves against burglars. The issue has been high on the law and order agenda since a farmer was jailed for shooting dead a burglar in 1999. Following this incident, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Association of Chief Police Officers said any householder can use reasonable force to protect themselves or others, or to carry out an arrest or to prevent crime. Yesterday the victim in the first incident mentioned, who was given bail pending further inquiries, refused to speak about the incident. But his solicitor (attorney) said: “My client is not at liberty to say anything because he is under police bail.” However, we appreciate that the public view might be that this is a man arrested in his own home defending his own property.” A neighbour said: “Police arrived in what seemed to be minutes and were there for the whole day. “It’s shocking to find out what has happened but people shouldn’t break into other people’s houses.” Another resident said: “I presume we will have to respect the burglar’s rights while his victim has the nightmare of court hanging over his head. It all seems so unfair.” A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said they had been called following reports that an intruder had fallen from a top-floor flat. A 56-year-old man had woken up to find a man in his flat. “Following an exchange of words, the alleged burglar was found unconscious on the pavement outside the flat. “It is believed that he had fallen from the fourth-floor window.” He said the man is 43 and lives locally and inquiries are continuing to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident. The victim was later released on bail until November. If charged and convicted, he could face a life sentence.
It is important to note that the audience with whom G-d is making these mandates at the time of the writing was the Israelites. We notice that the term “brother” is used in many of these mandates such as 22:1-4. Christians are often taught and believe these mandates were “only for the Jews” or maintain that such mandates were “nailed to the cross.” On the contrary; these mandates were given to the Jew first and then the Gentile. Remember, we are supposed to set the example for the rest of the world as to how we are to emulate Yahshua. Why anyone would want to believe these “pearls” for right living would be abrogated is beyond logic.
Chapter 23 introduces public health practices and provides more specifics on who may not enter the assembly, the fact that we are not to detest the Egyptians (Arabs), or Edomites; we are not “superior” as humans to others, even our enemies. YHVH/Yahshua elaborates on this concept with Peter in Acts 10:9, with the crux of the matter in verse 34; that as Peter said “I now understand that G-d does not play favorites, but that whoever fears Him and does what is right and is acceptable to Him, no matter what people he belongs to.” Interestingly, we covered this in last week’s parashah in the context of justice. It is reiterated and further explained in the B’rit Chadashah just as many of the other concepts and commands, mandates, and statutes in the Old Testament are explained by YHVH as Yahshua this time.
An important teaching similar to the concept of not taking more manna than necessary for the family is described in 23:25. We are not to hoard! Last week we learned that the appointed kings were not to multiply horses, wives, gold, or silver. This is the same concept at for the individual. I cannot count the number of times I observe people taking the sugar packets, napkins, and anything else that is not attached to a table at a restaurant and stuff their pockets or handbags. Another observation involves people taking ketchup, straws, or napkins, placing them on their tray, only to throw them away. According to G-d’s instructions, we are only to take that which we can use at the time, except in preparation for Shabbat when we gather enough “manna” to last through Shabbat (Ex. 16:26).
In Chapter 22 1-4 we learn another important concept; how to deal with things that are lost and found. Here is an example from Aish.com, an Orthodox site that follows the Oral Torah for you to consider. Keep in mind some of the rules for returning objects are based on sources other than G-d’s Torah, but sources that were written to answer specifics not addressed in G-d’s Torah. See if you can identify some of these issues:
My daughter just learned about the mitzvah of hashavat aveidah, returning lost objects to their owner. She is very excited, and I too think the concept is so beautiful, especially in today’s times, when people feel so much entitlement.
In her enthusiasm, my daughter is going overboard
The problem is that in her enthusiasm, my daughter is going overboard in trying to execute this mitzvah. Here are the circumstances we’re facing:
- In the park next to her school, my daughter found a child’s lone glove. She’s insisting that we take it home and post signs to publicize it so that the owner might retrieve it. The glove is quite worn and in poor condition, and I doubt that anyone will fret about the loss. I also insisted that we leave it exactly where it was, because in all likelihood, if the owner does search for it, he or she will come to the location where it was lost. Who is right?
- Our cousins, who live in another country, recently came to visit. Now that they have returned to their home and I’m getting our house back in order, we’re finding all sorts of things that they left behind, like single socks, small hair clips, half-used bottles of moisturizing cream, scribbled drawings and small craft projects. Do we need to mail these things back to them? Are we obligated to pay the cost of postage? What if they won’t even need or use most of it?
I really want to help my daughter do what’s right. Please give me some guidelines about the parameters of this special law.
The mitzvah of hashavat aveidah, returning a lost object, is indeed a very important mitzvah. Not only are we obligated to try and return a lost object, we are also prohibited from simply ignoring the object and leaving it lying on the ground.1
But, before getting into how far a person is obligated to go to return an object, we first need to outline which objects one is required to pick up and return to their rightful owner.
In general, the object needs to have at least the minimum value of a perutah (a Talmudic-era coin), both at the time of its being lost as well as when it is found, in order for one to be obligated to return it.2 Today, a perutah is equivalent to a minimum value of a perutah about two cents.3
When deciding whether something has the value of a perutah, we calculate based on how much the owner would value it. Therefore, if something is worthless by itself (like a single shoe or glove) but has significant value for the owner who has the other half of the pair, one would be obligated to return it.4
However, if the item appears to have been left at the spot for a very long time, we assume that the owner gave up hope of finding it, and one is not obligated to return it. In this case, if the glove appears to have been left outside for a very long time, you are not obligated to pick it up and return it.
Practically speaking, this means that one is required to try and return items like the single glove or your cousins’ expensive moisturizing creams, but not the scribbled drawings or hair clip (assuming it’s a cheap clip).
As for leaving the object where you found it, that is done only either (a) in a situation in which you aren’t obligated to return it, or (b) when there are no identifying markings, it looks like it was intentionally placed there, and it is in a secure area.
Having said that, the question now is: how much effort must you exert in returning the lost object to the owner, and what do you do if you can’t find the owner?
In general, all one is obligated to do is inform the owner that you have found his or her lost object. But you are not required to spend any of your own money to return the lost You are not required to spend any of your own moneyobject8 unless you know for sure that you will be paid back.9
In light of this, with regard to the glove, all you are required to do is hang up signs in places like the school and synagogue, which many people in the neighborhood frequent. You are not obligated to spend money on any advertisements.10 Furthermore, if by busying yourself in trying to find the owner, you will have to take off some time from work (i.e. you will not be making the money you normally would have at that time), then that too is considered an expense that—although laudatory—you are not obligated to make. 11
As for the items your cousins left in your house, the simplest solution would be to contact them and find out if they want the items returned, and if they would be willing to pay for postage. If for whatever reason they cannot be reached by phone, mail, e‑mails, etc., then you are not required to ship the items to them unless you know for sure that you will be reimbursed.
If a long time has passed since you publicized your find and no one has come forward to claim the object, you are permitted to use the object, provided that you evaluate how much it is worth and write down all identifying features. That way, if anyone ever comes forward, you will be able to return it. 12
You can be extremely proud and encouraging of your daughter. In an age when people are busy thinking more about themselves, she has learned and taken to heart the importance of helping others.
By Yehuda Shurpin
The Levirate marriage/duty of the deceased husband’s brother is described in Chapter 25 along with other mandates for living a G-dly life are introduced and explained in this chapter. Justice in business is addressed in verses 13-16. The importance of justice in all things exercising the letter and the spirit of the law runs throughout G-d’s Torah like watercolor in the rain. We cannot separate it from the rest of the Torah at will and still expect to be counted as a true believer. Let us set the example, letting our lights so shine before men that draw men to G-d and ignite a desire to know and follow Him.
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). Is it not interesting that the matriarchs were barren before G-d intervened to bless their wombs? Not at all. 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, 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).
Rabbi Tamah Davis