valid HTML 4.01


Ki Tetze (when you go out)

Deuteronomy 21:10 to 25:19, Isaiah 54:1-10


Interestgly, the mitzvah in verse 24:19 can only be fulfilled by someone who forgets something (a sheaf while harvesting).

Traditional Jewish Commentary

Rashi comments that in verse 21:12 the captive woman's head is shaved and nails are trimmed to make her unattractive. Thus the man wishing to marry her must still desire her after watching her be unattractive and mourning for a month.

Furthermore, Rashi looks at the following topics (a second, hated wife in v.15; a rebellious son in v.18) and concludes that marrying a captive woman will not turn out well: the man will eventually hate her, and their children will be rebellious. But (says Rashi) God was clever and knew that prohibiting the marriage would make it seem more desirable, so instead God arranges circumstances that will ensure such a marriage never happens.

Some rabbis interpret yerach yomim in verse 21:13 as "three months", thus making the verse a test if the woman is pregnant.

The Tz'enah Ur'enah links verse 22:1 with the messiah: "If your friend has lost something, and you have found it, you shall return it to him...By virtue of this commandment of returning lost property, God will resurrect the dead in the days of Mashiach. God repays in kind: He will return the souls to the bodies where they had previously lodged."

Yehudah Katz notes that verse 22:4 is restation Exodus 23:5 but after Leviticus 19:7. Leviticus 19:7 prohibits hating your brother, yet Exodus 23:5 assumes one of your brethren hates you. Thus Deuteronomy 22:4 is saying that even if your brother is sinning you must still help him.

The sages taught that the prohibition about wearing clothing designed for the other gender (22:5) was to prevent men or women from secretly visiting each other while attending what supposedly were single-gender gatherings.

The sages explain verses 23:3-4 as hinting at a plot by Amon and Moav. These nations would refuse to give Israel food, so Israel (eating only man) would be hungry for other food and more succeptible to eating idolatrous meat, and then adultery. This plot was what happened in Numbers 25. Thus the two crimes of not offering food and hiring Bilaam are combined into a crime worthy of deserving exclusion from a name among Israel forever. (Note Deut 2:29 says Moav did sell some food to Israel, which the Seforno uses to explain why Amon is listed first in verse 23:3.)

Moreover, it was the men among the Amoni and Mo'avi who made the plot. The women of the generation that participated in the plot were ordered to be killed, for they did not protest against the men's plan. Younger women are not killed and may marry into Israel, for they were not responsible for the plot.

Verse 24:1 allows divorce when the wife has ervah. The word ervah is only used twice in the Tenach, and means some type of ritually unclean metaphorical nakedness or shame—i.e., something needed is missing or shameful and there is "indecency in a matter". Significantly, this verse could about what the woman is like or about what she has done. The rabbis offered various interpretations. Shamai only allowed immoral conduct as grounds for divorce. Hillel taught any offenive act could be grounds divorce, even burning dinner. Akiva taught not only that no offensive act was needed, but a husband could divorce his wife simply because he found a nicer woman than her. (Gittin 90a)

Malachi 2:16 says God hates divorce. This is sometimes interpreted as that God hates a man who divorces his wife for an improper reason.

The verses about collecting a debt from a poor man (24:10-13) are followed by verses about paying a laborer (24:14-15) to show that if one of your employees owes you money you may not subtract the debt from his paycheck. Paying wages and collecting debts must be kept separate.

The ritual of chalitza (removal of the shoe) is used to refuse the custom of carrying on your heir-less, deceased brother's lineage by having a child with his widow. In the ritual (25:9) the widow first removes the brother's shoe—a sign of honoring and serving him. Then she spits in his face—a sign of humiliating him. In other words, the refusal to have a child with a woman not his wife is, in this case, both honorable and dishonorable. (Scholars debate whether refusal was norm in ancient Israel.)

The ritual of chalitza happens in Ruth 4:8-10.