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Ki Teitzei in a Nutshell

Ki Teitzei in a Nutshell

Deuteronomy 21:10–25:19


Seventy-four of the Torah’s 613 commandments (mitzvot) are in the Parshah of Ki Teitzei. These include the laws of the beautiful captive, the inheritance rights of the firstborn, the wayward and rebellious son, burial and dignity of the dead, returning a lost object, sending away the mother bird before taking her young, the duty to erect a safety fence around the roof of one’s home, and the various forms of kilayim (forbidden plant and animal hybrids).

Also recounted are the judicial procedures and penalties for adultery, for the rape or seduction of an unmarried girl, and for a husband who falsely accuses his wife of infidelity. The following cannot marry a person of Jewish lineage: a mamzer (someone born from an adulterous or incestuous relationship); a male of Moabite or Ammonite descent; a first- or second-generation Edomite or Egyptian.

Our Parshah also includes laws governing the purity of the military camp; the prohibition against turning in an escaped slave; the duty to pay a worker on time, and to allow anyone working for you—man or animal—to “eat on the job”; the proper treatment of a debtor, and the prohibition against charging interest on a loan; the laws of divorce (from which are also derived many of the laws of marriage); the penalty of thirty-nine lashes for transgression of a Torah prohibition; and the procedures for yibbum (“levirate marriage”) of the wife of a deceased childless brother, or chalitzah (“removing of the shoe”) in the case that the brother-in-law does not wish to marry her.

Ki Teitzei concludes with the obligation to remember “what Amalek did to you on the road, on your way out of Egypt.”

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Stuart (Schmuel) GOLD London July 28, 2017

I was born august 10 1945 and my barmitzvah was Ki Teitzei and haftorah was as you know mentioning barren women, and in 1958 no one told me what was the meaning of barren. It happened at Hendon Synogogue with the great Reverend Hardman, look up to see what he saw, it will shock you. A bit of perhaps useful or useless info, my late fathers first name was Lipman (Lippie). Most usual, lots of Lipman surnames but not come across a lipman first name Reply

Rabbi Shmary Brownstein For September 17, 2014

To Joe Lemm As this page is the Parshah in a Nutshell, many of the nuances of the subjects referred to cannot be addressed here. The reader is urged to continue with the Parshah in depth and to read the various articles and commentaries available in the Parshah section on our site for a fuller discussion of these matters in the light of our tradition.

Briefly, the wayward son is stoned because of the trajectory he is on, not for his present misdeeds. In fact, the requirements to qualify as such a son are so many as to obviate its ever being implemented. A woman is never executed for suspected adultery, only for confirmed misconduct by the testimony of witnesses. The father is only compensated for the harm of a minor, since she is his ward and is in his care. Once she is older than twelve and a half, her father has no claim to her damages. Reply

Anonymous September 5, 2014

No one is addressing the fact that some of these mitzvot are horrible and seem immoral. Stoning a son to death because he is disobedient? Stoning a woman to death because of suspected adultery? Compensating the father monetarily when the daughter is hurt? Reply

Anonymous August 31, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

The stoning of a son never ever ever happened, not even once. Ever. Simply never Reply

Anonymous rego park September 1, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

It is very misleading to take anything in the written Torah literally, so much so that one may think G-d is cruel and evil as did the person who commented above. Written Torah could be compared at best to a small piece of paper onto which a person took down a years worth of High level Medical Surgical School notes. Good luck understanding that 1 piece of paper. That is why Moses taught the Jewish nation for 40 years in the desert so they can know the Torah (instruction) of G-d on how to live properly. Only at the end of the 40 Years did Moses give them the Written Torah which was to act as an infinitely concise reminder of the 40 year training program. That is why it is crucial for one to study and understand from a rabbi, not by reading Oral or Written Torah yourself and coming to conclusions , because both are very concise and could be misinterpreted by you and your lack of passed down knowledge. Therefore , go to Study with a competent Orthodox Rabbi before commenting on G-d's laws Reply

Anonymous September 1, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

Add a comment...Except in Sanhedrin 71a where Rabbi Yonatan says he saw such a case and "sat on his grave." Reply

Anonymous August 25, 2014

These summaries are great! Thank you so much for posting them! Reply

Rabbi Shmary Brownstein August 19, 2013

To Yirmiyahu The most straightforward difference would be that a Kedeishah is a woman who is a regular prostitute, while a Zonah could be any woman who had illegitimate relations with a man, regardless of whether this is a regular practice or a one-time affair. Anything given her for the affair cannot be used for sacrificial purposes. The root KDS means set aside, and it could be for good, i.e. something holy, or for not good, something objectionable. Nachmanides says that in Hebrew, words are often used to mean the opposite of their actual meaning, so that Kedeishah means un-holy.
The Torah does not speak explicitly about conversion at all. It uses the phrase of a foreigner who sojourns with you, which means that a member of another nation comes to live with Israel. The person's conversion is assumed. When would we start counting three generations? From when they come to join the Jewish people, i.e. convert. Reply

Russell Kaleolani Shenn Atlanta, GA August 17, 2013

How to read This is one of those Parshas which should be read beginning with the end as the last statement are the reasons behind the last statement. The real question this Parsha addresses is "Why does Amalek exist?" Amalek exists because he never received instruction in the 74 mitzvot. The goal of the 74 mitzvot is to inculcate order, balance, discipline and justice into the life of the individual. With discipline would come discernment and the ability to make clear distinctions. This is what Amalek and his kind lacked besides a fear of God. Reply

Yirmiyahu Sydney August 15, 2013

A couple of questions I have a couple of questions regarding this parsha.

1) Why in one pasuk is a prostitute referred to as a 'Kedeisha' and the next pasuk referred to as a 'Zonah'. How is Kedeisha related to Kadosh (since it has the same shores)

2) Why does the Torah not specifically say the third generation of egyptians or edomites from the generation that converted? Reply

Rabbi Shmary Brownstein August 30, 2012

Re: Marital Infidelity The subsequent verses (Deuteronomy 22:20-21) discuss just that. See Parshah in Depth for more: Reply

Anonymous Rochester, NY August 26, 2012

Ki Tietzei How about a proven case of marital infidelity? Reply

Ruth housman Marshfield , Ma September 22, 2011

Mother. bird and her children it is so interesting to me that today a friend told me, not knowing about this mother bird instruction that she had been very upset during the building of her new home that a workman discovered a robin's nest in a nearby tree. This discovery would have necessitated destruction of the nest given proposed plans. my friend Marlene was distraught but to hold up everything to wait for these eggs to hatch would be costly. A workman had an idea, carefully removed the nest and put it in another tree. The mother bird was initially distraught but found the nest.
It was a mitzva to save these fledgling robins! Reply

Anonymous Prescott, AR/US September 21, 2011

Mother Bird When G_d destroyed the world in Noah's day, he left a bit of humanity left to start over. In the instruction about the mother bird, there is the similar thought of leaving someone to start over the family/breed again. No matter how much His people have gone through, they have not been annihilated completely. Sometimes we struggle to see the compassion, but it is there. Reply

MIshis Lassie USA September 10, 2011

Wasn't Ruth Already A Spiritual Jewess What comes to my mind is that perhaps HaShem considered Ruth a Jewess already, as she had accepted Him by heartfelt faith (come into Judah by sincere faith in Him), and had formerly been the wife of Naomi's son. Reply

Alberto New York, NY/ USA September 8, 2011

Elul Why so many mitzvahs in the month of Elul in this Parsha, does these mitzvahs have to do something with forgiveness and compassion? Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma September 6, 2011

interesting about the male of Moabite descentt because Ruth, a Moabite, did become Jewish, married Boaz, and her story has the lineage of the Messiah within it as in The Book of Ruth.

I am thinking we need to update some of these but others do make perfect sense today.

The sending away of the mother bird is about love but it also makes me very sad, to think of her children being taken. I think I would rather, Go Without. Reply

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