Commentary for Ki Teitzei

31 Aug

We often think of the Torah as a very grandiose book. It is filled with epic, fantastical stories with great personal drama or divine intervention in human affairs on a massive scale. It is full of important but complex rituals and sacrifices, with every detail spelled out so as to ensure that the rite is performed exactly as God desires. It is full of grand statements both moral and theological; loud declarations such as “I am the Lord thy God” or “thou shalt not murder.” And the Torah does have all of those things. But it is more than that as well.


In this week’s parshah, the Torah reminds us that there is another component to morality. One that is quieter than broad, all-encompassing statements like “thou shalt not steal,” but no less important. “If you see your fellow’s ox or sheep gone astray, do not ignore it; you must take it back to your fellow. If your fellow does not live near you or you do not know who he is, you shall bring it home and it shall remain with you until your fellow claims it; then you give it back to him. You shall do the same with his donkey, you shall do the same with his garment, and so too shall you do with anything that your fellow loses and you mind. You must not remain indifferent. If you see your fellow’s donkey or ox fallen on the road, do not ignore it; you must help him raise it (Deut 22:1-4).” Simple little human things. The Torah teaches us that it is not enough to refrain from doing evil. We must proactively help each other in our everyday lives if we wish to create a better, more caring world.

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