Friday, September 16, 2016

Parshas Ki Seitzei

This Week’s Parsha – Ki Seitzei:

This week’s parsha is Ki Seitzei, and it has a lot of Commandments.  I believe it actually has 72 Commandments.  But there is a different kind of thing I would like to, B’Ezras Hashem/With the Help of Hashem discuss in this introduction to the parsha:  This parsha falls in Elul, and there must be a reason for this.  Well, let us first look at the name of the parsha:  ‘Ki Seitzei’ literally means ‘When you will go out’.  This definitely ties in with the month of Elul, when we are supposed to; B’Ezras Hashem/With the Help of Hashem ‘go out’ from our evil ways.  And there is yet another connection in the name:  The Hebrew words כּי תצא' has the Gematria/numerical value of 521.  This is the same as the Gematria/numerical value of the word ‘אכּשׁר’ which means ‘I will Kasher’.  This is essentially what ‘going out’ from our evil ways is:  Kashering ourselves – repenting to Hashem for our “treife” acts, and becoming a “Kosher” person, so to speak.  It is a time when Hashem, makes it even easier to turn back to Him, and how could we not, Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid, take advantage of this time of favor?!  Can you imagine a person being given this wonderful, amazing gift, just looking at it, and then disregarding it completely?!  Yet, Hashem gave us the incredible, incredible gift of the month of Elul and the Yomim Noraim/High Holidays, and we must utilize them to propel our service of Hashem forward.  True, every single time is a time to return to Hashem, but right now – in this time period, i.e. Elul and the High Holidays – Hashem has made it even easier for us to return to Him in truth.  Why would we not, Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid take this wonderful opportunity?!  And using this time properly will, B’Ezras Hashem/With the Help of Hashem help us for these times, for the rest of the year, and for the next one, as well.  If we do Teshuva/repentance now, then it will help us for the next year.  If we haven’t already returned to Hashem, let us do so now!  “There is no time like the present”, as people like to say.  This goes for every single moment; at every single moment, we can get better and return to Hashem.  Each moment is a new opportunity for us!  But now back to the connections between this parsha and Elul:  This is a parsha that has many, many Commandments – more than most parshios!  And the name of the parsha, as we said before, is Ki Seitzei, which means ‘When you will go out’. 

So this can teach us, I think, that a way to go out from our evil deeds is to do a bunch of Mitzvos/Commandments and do good things (thus the many Commandments in the parsha called ‘Ki Seitzei/When you will go out’).  And this is very similar to an explanation of the Chiddushei HaRim (The first Gerrer Rebbe – Rebbe Yitzchok Meir Alter zt”l) on the words from Tehillim (34:15) ‘Sur mei’raa va’asei tov/Turn from evil and do good.’  He explains that these words teach us that a way for us to ‘turn from evil’ is to ‘do good’.[1]  On the physical level, we would say that if we are occupied with performing Commandments, and doing good things, we won’t have the time to even think about or do bad things.  However, spiritually, (and the truth of the matter is) if we do good things like we are supposed to, it will bring us closer to Hashem, and will make us more spiritual.  This will then make us on a higher level, and then things will feel different.  When you come closer to Hashem, you become farther from evil.  May HaKadosh Baruch Hu help every single person to ‘turn from evil, and do good’ – especially right now, in Elul and coming to Rosh HaShanah – but also at all times, Amein, vi’Amein. 
Now on to the parsha:  The first passuk/verse in the parsha is ‘Ki seitzei la’milchamah al oy’vecha, u’nisano Hashem Elokecha bi’yadecha, vi’shavisa shiv’yo/When you will go out to war upon (against) your enemies, and Hashem your G-d will deliver them (literally ‘him’) into your hand, and you will capture his captives.’  There are some nice Mefarshim/commentaries which I would like to share with you on this verse: 
1) The Baal HaTurim (Rabbeinu Yaakov ben Asher zt”l) explains that the Torah talks about ‘going out to war’, and he explains that it teaches us to be proactive in war, by ‘going out’ to our enemies, instead of having them come to us.  And I think that we can learn a big lesson from this:  Instead of waiting for our enemy, the Yetzer Hara/Evil Inclination to come and wage war on us and try to entice us to sin, we should ‘ go out to war’ on him!  Don’t wait for him to come to us, go out and fight him before he can even try to trap you. 
2) The Rebbe Reb Simcha Bunim of P’shischa zt”l explains that this passuk/verse teaches us a big lesson:  The Hebrew word ‘כּי’ can also mean ‘if’, and so Reb Simcha Bunim zt”l explains the verse this way:  ‘If you will, go out to war on your enemy’ – if we will truly wage war on our real enemy – the Yetzer Hara/Evil Inclination, and we will truly try to fight it, then ‘Hashem will deliver him into our hands’.[2]  Meaning that Hashem will make sure that we beat our Yetzer Hara/Evil Inclination if we really, really, truly try to beat it.  The obvious question does arise though; why do we sometimes lose to our Yetzer Hara/Evil Inclination even though we tried really hard?  Why didn’t Hashem make sure that we beat it?  An answer to this, I believe, is that when we say that “I tried my best” or “I tried so hard” we are not really telling the truth.  Do we even know how much Hashem makes us capable of?!  If we really tried our hardest, we wouldn’t have done whatever bad thing that we did.  And the fact that we did is a proof that we, in fact did not try nearly as hard as we should have.  This is a good thing to remember. 
3) The Chassidishe Masters harp on the words in this passuk/verse ‘Al oy’vecha/on your enemy’, and they explain that this is one of the things which we must concentrate on if in battle:  True, we interpret in this case the Hebrew word ‘על’ as implying ‘against’ but the true meaning of the word is ‘upon’.  So they explain that the way to win the battle against our enemies is to remain ‘upon our enemies’, meaning over them.  We must not fight evil on its own turf; we can’t stoop down to its level.  But rather, as this verse tells us, we must stay ‘upon’ our enemies.  And then, they conclude beautifully, as the verse says next ‘and Hashem your G-d will deliver them into your hands’ – meaning that if we stay spiritually above our enemies, then Hashem will make sure that we beat them.[3]  We could use this method, B’Ezras Hashem/With the Help of Hashem when dealing with the Yetzer Hara/ Evil Inclination, or in any situation dealing with a bad person (if we ever, Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid, have to).  This is very important to remember in life. 
Alright, now back to the parsha:  The Torah discusses in this Aliyah the case if a man had two wives (having two wives is not a recommended thing though), one of them he loves and one of them he hates.  And the hated wife has the firstborn child, then the father still has to give the double portion that child, because he is still the firstborn.  Though he came from the hated wife, he has the rights to the double portion.  Now, what lesson does this case teach us for nowadays?  I believe that it can teach us to not let our emotions get in the way of things, as “Love” and “Hate” are emotions.  Though the man loves one wife and is personally partial to her, the rule (that the firstborn son gets the double portion) is the rule, and it must not be broken.  This goes for us in our lives:  Even if, Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid, it is hard for us to keep a Commandment for some reason, for example, it will make us look bad to people, we cannot let that get in the way:  If Hashem, He is Blessed commanded something, it must be kept, no matter if we want to or not (Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid that we don’t).  However, let me add that, in reality, all of our Souls (as the Rambam and others explain) always want to do the right thing.  So, for real, our true selves, i.e. our Souls never ‘not want’ to do a good thing. 
Now back to the parsha:  The Torah also discusses a case if a man (Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid!) has a son who is extremely rebellious, and he does not listen to his parents even after they discipline him.  The parents then have to bring him to the Elders of the city, to the gate.  And they have to tell them ‘This son of ours is wayward and rebellious; he does not listen to us; [he is] a glutton and a guzzler.’  Rashi zt”l quotes from Gemara Sanhedrin 72b, which explains that there are specific things which the son must do for him to be categorized as a Ben Sorer U’Moreh (the child we are talking about here), and he lists the things.  However I will not get into them now.  So the kid who is a Ben Sorer U’Moreh was to be pelted with stones, and he would die.  Though the Torah lists the rules for it, we are told that, (Baruch Hashem!!) there never occurred a case like this, where we had to do the instructions which the Torah gives for it. 
So, at the beginning of Sheini/the second Aliyah, the Torah discusses if a person commits a sin for which they are to be put to death, and they are put to death, then we should hang him on a pole.  Wait, none of the four deaths administered by the court are hanging someone, right?  Ah, but Rashi zt”l quotes from Gemara Sanhedrin 45b, which explains that “All who are stoned [by the court] must [afterwards] be hanged”.  So anyway, the next verse tells us that we are not allowed to leave the body hanging on a pole overnight, rather, we should bury him on the same day he was put there, because a hanging human corpse is a blasphemy of Hashem. 
Now, Rashi zt”l quotes from Gemara Sanhedrin 46a, which explains that this is because we are created in Hashem’s Image (so to speak), so any defacement to a human body is almost, Ki’vi’yachol (literally ‘like it was able’, but we use it to say that we are using human terms to try to describe Hashem) like a defacement to Hashem.  The Alter of Slobodka (HaRav Nosson Tzvi Finkel zt”l) used to emphasize this concept very much. 
But, anyway, there is another commentary on this verse:  The Torah says that the corpse cannot be left hanging overnight; it has to be buried on the same day.  Says the Baal Shem Tov (Rebbe Yisroel ben Eliezer zt”l), our sins are like a corpse; and if we, Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid do one, then we must not let them ‘hang overnight’.  Rather, he explains beautifully, this verse teaches us that we must ‘bury them’ on the same day which we did them.  Don’t just wait for the Days of Teshuva/repentance (i.e., Elul, Rosh HaShanah, and Yom Kippur), repent for them on the very day which we did them!  We shouldn’t let a sin just “hang there”, so to speak, but rather, we should repent for it nearly once we realize that we have done it, with the intention to not return to it.[4]  This is very important to remember, take to heart, and, B’Ezras Hashem/With the Help of Hashem put it into action.

Back to the parsha:  This Aliyah also discusses Hashavas Aveidah/Returning lost articles.  In Shlishi/the third Aliyah, there is the Commandment of not planting kilayim/a mixture of seeds together.  Rashi zt”l quotes from Gemara Berachos 22b, which explains that the prohibition of planting seeds together means that we cannot plant different species of seeds in the same “throw of the hand” of each other. 
Anyway, towards the end of this Aliyah, the Torah tells us that an Ammoni or a Moavi cannot (ever) enter the congregation of Hashem (which means marry a Jewish woman, according to Rashi quoting from Gemara Yevamos 77b).  The Torah explains that this is because they did not greet us with bread and water on the way when we were going out from Mitzraim/Egypt, and because he (Balak, the king of Moav) hired Bilaam to curse us.  However, Hashem did not listen to  Bilaam’s curse; He turned it into a blessing, because He loves us.  The Torah says that we are not to seek their peace or their good all our days. 
The Radomsker Rebbe (I’m not quite sure which one) explains beautifully that this teaches us about goyim/non-Jews in general:  A lot of times, non-Jews (not all, of course) do what they want, and are pleasure seekers.  They like to live easy lives a lot of times as well, which to them is ‘peaceful’ and ‘good’.  Explains the Radomsker, this verse is telling us that we should not seek ‘their peace’ and ‘their good’ – meaning the ‘peaceful’ and ‘good’ lives that they have, which are easy.  Those are not the proper life to live; the proper way to live is to not live how we want, but how Hashem wants and told us to, whether it is easy or not.[5]  What a lesson for everyone! 
Okay, now back to the parsha:  The next Aliyos have a lot of rules, such as the laws of divorce, accurate measurements, etc.  And at the total end of the parsha, we are commanded to remember what Amalek (yi’mach shi’mo vi’zichro/obliterate his name and memory) did to us, when he happened upon us, and we must destroy their name from under the Heavens.  We must not forget! 

There are 110 Passukim/verses in this parsha.

Have a wonderful, awesome Shabbos everyone!!!!
[1]  Parshas Shoftim/Elul: Believing In Doing Good.  Shiur given by Ari Mirzoeff shlita. 
[2] Google Groups.  Be'er Mayim Chaim - Torah & ChassidusFwd: Torah Wellsprings - Ki Seitzei 5776:  Torah Wellsprings - Ki Seitzei 5776. 
[3]©.  Parshah In-Depth - Ki Teitzei.
[4]  Chassidic Gems:  Parashat Ki Tetzei.  Shiur given by HaRav Elyakim Rosenblatt shlita. 
[5]  Chassidic Gems:  Parashat Ki Tetzei.  Shiur given by HaRav Elyakim Rosenblatt shlita. 

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