Ki Teitze: Devarim (Deuteronomy) 21: 10 – 25: 19
Haftarah- Isaiah 54: 1-10
Today, September 14, is my sister’s birthday. She decided that this year she would do at least one nice thing each day for two months. So, we made a “flutter book” with 60 pages and each day she wrote down that day’s good deed.
Her activities ranged from throwing away trash on the street to delivering food to the elderly through “Meals on Wheels”. Giving and gratitude are two sides of the same coin. My sister gave time and energy to others, and it made her feel good. One gives when one feels s/he has enough and can share. It doesn’t need to be something that costs money. It can be a smile, a homemade item or hands-on help. If we are grateful for what we have we can share our gratitude with others.
We can read about respect and generosity in this week’s parsha, Ki Teitze.
The parsha addresses an extensive list of behaviours. The range of laws and guidelines is impressive. They deal with family and seemingly personal issues – the unloved wife, the rebellious child, a lost object… and treat those issues with the same gravity as crimes such as murder. The poor and weak members of society are also noticed in this parsha. I will point out a few of the situations that are discussed.
The treatment of one’s servants: one must pay one’s servant at the end of the day, “neither shall the sun go down upon it for he is poor, and sets his heart upon it.” (Deut. 24:15) The lesson- pay your employees on time because they are depending on the money that is owed to him/her. Safety standards: Houses in biblical times were built with flat roofs so people could sleep on the roofs. The Torah states that one must build a parapet (wall) around the roof so that no one will be in danger of falling of the roof while s/he is asleep. (Deut. 22:8) Alternative to Food Banks: During the harvest the farmer must leave some of the produce for the “stranger, the fatherless and the widow”- i.e. for those in need. It directs the farmer to leave any forgotten sheaves in the fields, not to go back and get them. It describes beating the olive trees only once so that there will be olives left in the boughs. It says not to glean grapes a second time after the first grapes have been gathered. (Deut. 24: 19- 21)
This is an interesting parsha, one that should be read carefully in order to understand the details of how to treat those around you whether they are relatives, employees or strangers. The beautiful element of the message is that we always have something we can give or share with others. If we own a field we can share some of the produce. If we own something small we can lend it- or give it. At the least we can show and share respect for others.
Gratitude leads to generosity, and generosity leads to joy. Go ahead- have a good time and share your goodness with others.
Yours, with an accordion fold book, Laya
P.S. Happy Birthday, Libby Crust and Hani Keene-Lightstone!