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   by Jacob Solomon

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Where, in the Parasha, may the following values be observed?

1. The male sexual lust might indeed be exceptionally difficult to bear in certain circumstances - following Rashi.

2. Parental love of children must sometimes take second place to what is morally right for them - following Rabbeinu Bachya.

3. One should offer help to people who do make an effort to help themselves - according to Rashi.

4. People should show compassion where possible - according to the Ramban.

5. A person is not normally liable for anything completely beyond his control.

6. Prostitution must not be officially tolerated - according to the Ramban.

7. Business cheats and swindlers may not justify their activities with the claim that their profits go to good causes - following the Ramban.

8. Divorce must be for sound reasons, and may not degenerate into a ruse to sample other partners - according to the Ramban.

9. G-d takes note of kindness shown to others, even if they don't say 'thank you' - following Rashi.

10. A woman is financially liable if she tries to help her husband by causing embarrassment to someone else - following the S'forno.


1. The opening words of the Parasha (21:10-14) acknowledge the inflamed passions of the soldier in battle towards one of his female captives. These verses recognize that his lust may cool down after the lengthy process described in the text. At the same time, he will find it easier to restrain himself at that moment of passion, if he believes he has something to look forward to later onů

2. The Torah's requirement of the parents to involve the courts when their son's conduct proves incorrigible (21:, illustrates that parents' love for children must sometimes take second place to what is morally right for them in the long run.

3. This is derived from the Torah's requiring a person to give assistance to someone whose donkey has fallen by the wayside. The words 'you shall stand them up, with him' (22:4) are understood to mean that the owner must make an effort as well - he cannot just sit at the roadside and leave it all to the passer-by.

4. Following the tradition of the Talmud (Berachot 33b), the reason that the Torah requires a person to send the mother bird from the nest before taking the eggs (22:7) is not because G-d has mercy on the birds and animals per se, but that people should inculcate compassion into the core of their personalities.

5. This may be learnt from the Torah's completely pardoning a betrothed woman who was raped where it is clear that she did nothing to facilitate that situation in the first place (22:26).

6. Prostitution must not be officially tolerated: according to the Ramban, is derived from the words 'there must not be a promiscuous woman among the daughters of Israel'. (23:18) This is understood to be primarily directed at the courts - ordering them to ensure that women should not parade their availability in public, and to prohibit facilities for such purposes.

7. This is derived from the prohibition of bringing an animal used as barter for a forbidden activity - such as a medium of exchange for the hire of a prostitute (23:19). The Ramban widens that to include ill-obtained gains being used for charitable causes - G-d regards the idea of their being 'laundered' for Mitzvot in justification for such activities as an 'abomination' (ibid).

8. According to the Ramban, that is the reason why a person may not remarry his divorced wife if she had been married to someone else in the meantime (24:4).

9. The Torah orders the creditor to return the essential-article pledge of a poor debtor when he needs it. The Torah reassures the creditor that G-d will always 'reckon it as an act of righteousness' (24:13) - whether or not the debtor shows gratitude.

10. The Torah's punishing the woman who comes to her husband's aid (2511-12) is understood by the S'forno to be referring to where she uses excessive force in the situation, causing the victim deep embarrassment. Such shame must be compensated, according to the Halacha.


'When a man marries a new wife, he shall not go out to the army, nor shall he be obliged to perform any duties. He shall be free for his home for one year and bring happiness to his wife.' (24:5)

'One must not take an upper or lower millstone as a pledge, for he would be taking life as a pledge.' (24:6)

The Torah puts the above two laws together. What does a newly-wed's year's exemption from the army (in any war other than one for survival) have in common with the articles a creditor may or may not take as security on his loan? What may be learnt from their placed next to each other?

My attempts to answer the above may be found on the Shema Yisrael website under Ki-Teitze 5762.

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Also by Jacob Solomon:
Between the Fish and the Soup

From the Prophets on the Haftara


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