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Ki Tetzei – A thought for the week by Mike Lewis

Ki Tetzei is the last "mitzva" Parasha in the Torah, Maimonides counted 72, both positive and negative. Trying to look for order here is a challenge. What is being put forward is the practical side of being in the Promised Land. We are being reminded that the Land is not just a promise, something given, but a land which is to be filled with promise. The Parasha deals with war, marital problems, family problems housing, clothing, weights and measures and ends with the reminder that:

Always remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore, I command you to do this thing

That command is in the singular, it is personal. The covenant had been given our forefathers who were at Sinai and were no longer there. We are the inheritors and we are going to be held responsible for the future. On three occasions the Parasha uses the phrase “You must not remain indifferent”, “lehitalem”. In other words, do not hide behind the claim of ignorance. We also read

Parents shall not be put to death for children, nor children put to death for parents: a person shall be put to death only for his own crime.

Today we are living in a society that has taken the view that history can be revised and rewritten. History certainly needs to be remembered but it is what we do now that will be our inheritance. Our tradition is not to rewrite the covenant and our own history but to learn and to go forward.


As we go forward in the month of Ellul and approach Rosh Hashanah we consider the past, remember the year behind us and make our promises for the coming year with our eyes wide open.

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