|Week of September 7, 2008 Shabbat Ki Teitzei Elul 13, 5768
The name of this portion is sometimes called Ki Teitzai and sometimes just the one word Teitzei. The initial verse (which always has the energy/essence concealed in the Portion) is very confusing. Even the English translation is confusing."When you go out to war against your enemies (plural), and HaShem your God, will deliver them into your hand and you will capture its captivity." (Artscroll translation). A more literal translation but just as confusing it is "capture its captives". One question the Sages ask is "Usually you go to war against 1 enemy why is enemy in the plural?".
So when we are confused we go to another Kabbalistic tool the number of verses. In this case it is 110 or Koof Yood. The memonic device the sages tell us to use is Ayin Lamed Yood. This is translated as Upon Me or Its on Me. Not much Help there either.
Next we read the commentary of the ARI - Rabbi Issac Luria, the formost Kabbilist of the last 500 years. In his writings he explains that the war that is being described is a war of choice not obligation. Also that the purpose of this capture its captivity is to reconnect sparks of Jewish souls that have been captured by the Evil Inclination. I hope this helps clarify the essence of this Parasha. Maybe if we revisit the first word which is Ki - Caf Yood. One of the translations of this word is IF and thus the sentence becomes If you go to War against your enemies. The sages stress that Life is a war between our soul and body; between our good inclination and our evil inclination. Of course then the word should be translated as When you go out to war; If it is talking about the physical war among nations it should be translated as IF you go out to war.
So should we go to war or are we already at war and don't even recognize it?
What other items are in this Parasha? Maybe they will help us understand the essence of this Parasha?
There is the right of the first born especially when their are two wives and one of them is hated. (this is easily understood as the good and evil inclination) Of course which is the hated wife can be a question?
There is the wayward and rebellious son who must be put to death by his own parents. Of course the Hallacha is so specific as to be ony between the ages of 12 and 12 1/2 so it never happened.
The immediate removal of a condemned prisoners body after hanging!
Admonition to care for and return the property of another even when it is difficult to do so.
Not to wear the clothes of the other sex!
Sending the Mother Bird from the Nest prior to taking the eggs. The reward for this Mitzvah is long life! But i thought we are to do Mitzvoth for their own sake not for reward.
Make sure you put up a protective fence on your roof! Is it more important to put a fence around your property rather than the roof which almost never has anybody walking up there. Of course in a High Rise Building we do need a fence on the roof. Did the Torah foresee High Rise Buildings?
Levirite Marriage which can ony be understood within the context of reincarnation. (Levirate Marriage is when a man dies without children - his wife must marry his brother. The child that is brought into this world through this marriage has the soul of the man who died. One of the most famous Levirate Marriage was Yehudah and Tamar in the Portion of Vayeshev in Beraishit. She had two husbands who died and through the intercourse with Yehudah she had twins. This is the source of the lineage of Mashiach Ben David)
The portion ends with the admonition to remember Amalek.
Finally we can see the essence of the Parasha!
Amalek is the nation that God is at war with throughout the generations. Amalek is the nation that has the same Gematria as Safek (doubt). The essence of Amalek is to cast doubt on our relation/connection with God! The memonic device of the sages "It is on You" now makes sense. During this month of Elul we need to start the process of Tshuvah. Not because God says so! But because we made a mistake in a battle of the war with the evil inclination. When we make this mistake the only way we can correct it and take back the captive energy we gave to the negative side is to do Tshuvah. All of these other Mitzvoth mentioned in this Parasha relate to this war which at times is a voluntary war. We realize we should not do something wrong yet other times it is a war that we don't even remember that we are engaged in.
Use the energy of this portion to assist you in your process of Tshuvah. That is the essence of its energy.
Enjoy the Reading!
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Chanoch Ben Yaacov
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