Enjoy four short thoughts and a video adapted from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Parshat Ki Teitzei.

Irrational Doubt

Remember what Amalek did to you on the road, on your way out of Egypt.
(Deuteronomy 25:17)

The Jewish people had just experienced one of the greatest manifestations of divine power in history. Ten supernatural plagues had compelled the mightiest nation on earth to free them from their servitude. The sea had split before them, and manna had rained from the heavens to nourish them. How could they possibly question, “Is G‑d amongst us or not?” (Exodus 17:7)

Yet such is the nature of doubt. There is doubt that is based on a rational query. There is doubt that rises from the doubter’s subjective motives and desires. But then there is doubt pure and simple: irrational doubt, doubt more powerful than reason. Doubt that neutralizes the most convincing arguments and the most inspiring experiences with nothing more than a cynical shrug.

Such was the doubt that left the Jewish people susceptible to attack from Amalek. Amalek, in the spiritual sphere, is the essence of baseless, irrational indifference.

The answer to Amalek is likewise supra-rational. The Jew’s response to Amalek is to remember: to call forth his soul’s reserves of supra-rational faith, a faith which may lie buried and forgotten under a mass of mundane involvements and entanglements. A faith which, when remembered, can meet his every moral challenge, rational or not.
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Vanquishing the Enemy

If you go out to war against your enemies.
(Deuteronomy 21:10)

If you open any translation of this week’s Torah reading, it will likely begin: “If you go out to war against your enemies.” But if you look at the original Hebrew, you will see that this is only an approximate rendition. Al, the Hebrew word translated as “against,” really means “over” or “above.”

With this choice of wording, the Torah teaches us a fundamental lesson about warfare. To be victorious in war, you’ve got to be “above your enemy.” As long as two foes are on the same level, there will be no true victor. The only way to achieve true victory is to be truly superior.

The same is true when the enemy is not external, but part of our being. We have both material and spiritual desires within us and there is a dynamic tension between them as each seek to control our consciousness.

In this vein, we can appreciate the importance of being “above your enemy.” If our spiritual tendencies are fighting with the same type of weapons - i.e., our ordinary type of feeling and thought - as our material tendencies, neither side is going to achieve a real victory. But we have within us a truly superior spiritual potential; our soul which is “an actual part of G‑d.” When we bring this spiritual core into expression, we are head and shoulders above the way our materially oriented processes work.
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The Key to a Strong Marriage

When you build a new house, you shall make a guard rail for your roof.
(Deuteronomy 22:8)

In the Torah portion of Ki Teitzei we learn : “When you build a new house, you shall make a guard rail for your roof.” The purpose of the guard-rail — as the Torah itself goes on to say — is to keep people from falling off an unenclosed roof.

In a spiritual context, the meaning of this commandment is as follows:

Our Sages tell us that “One’s wife is [considered as] one’s [entire] home,” so much so that Rabbi Yossi said: “I never called my spouse ‘my wife’…but ‘my home.’ ”

In this context, “when you build a new home,” refers to the beginning of one’s marriage. When a person marries and sets up a home, he must take upon himself the yoke of earning a livelihood. At such a time a person’s spiritual status may easily plummet.

The Torah therefore reminds the individual that since he is beginning a new home and a new lifestyle, with a greater degree of immersion in physicality, he must build a guard-rail. Clearly his previous manner of spiritual service will not suffice, and he must take upon himself additional guard-rails so as not to take a spiritual tumble in thought, speech, or deed.
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Our Marriage with G‑d

"When a man shall take a woman.”
(Deuteronomy 24:1)

This week’s Torah reading speaks about the laws of marriage. According to Talmudic Law, marriage is a two-staged process involving erusin (betrothal) and nisuin (marriage). At present, both stages are performed in the traditional marriage ceremony under the chupah. In Talmudic times, however, there were months – up to a year – between the two stages. The couple were man and wife, but because they had not had the opportunity to live and share together, they didn’t know each other thoroughly.

Marriage on this plane is an analogue to the relationship G‑d shares with the Jewish people. Here also there are two stages. At Mount Sinai, with the giving of the Torah, we were betrothed to Him; but the nisuin, the consummation of that bond, will be only in the era of the Redemption.

Thus although we have shared a three-thousand-year relationship with G‑d, there is still a measure of distance between us. We do not fully understand and relate to Him, and even He, as it were, is not fully united with us.

In the era of the Redemption, that will change. Our bond with G‑d will be complete, as the Prophet states: “Your Master will no longer be hidden, and your eyes will behold your Master.” May this take place in the immediate future.
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On Harmony in Marriage

In the 1970s the Rebbe issued a call for a campaign to strengthen and promote the observance of Family Purity among all segments of the Jewish community. Apart from promoting closeness and harmony between husband and wife, the practice can also bring peace and harmony to the entire family: