Devarim (Deuteronomy)In this final book of Torah, Moses reviews much of the history and the laws given to the Jewish people: hence the Greek name, (taken from phrase 'Mishneh Torah', Deut. 17:18) meaning second telling. In Deuteronomy, the belief that following God's rules will bring blessing; while spurning God will result in calamity is stressed. Idolatry and other false practices are continually denounced. Many scholars identify Deuteronomy with the book of Teaching found by Hilkiah the High Priest (during the reign of King Josiah- II Kings 22:8) during the reforms the king was instituting to strengthen Israel and its religion. There are thirty-four chapters, divided into eleven parashiyot. The parashiyot of Devarim are: Devarim, Va'Etchanan, Ekev, Re'eh, Shoftim, Ki Tetze, Ki Tavo, Nitzavim, VaYelech, Ha'azinu, and Zot HaBrachah

Ki Tetze

Ki Tetze: God feels close when we nurture our relationship through prayer and mitzvot.

In Parashat Ki Tetze, our tradition identifies 74 different mitzvot , covering a wide assortment of rules related to ethical warfare, family life, burial of the deceased, property laws, the humane treatment of animals, fair labour practices, and proper economic transactions. Specific topics addressed in this week's portion include treatment of females captured in war, the rights of the first born, the ben soreir - the 'wayward and rebellious' son - who is put to death, followed by the treatment of the bodies of the executed. The portion then goes on to discuss our responsibility towards the property of others, men and women's clothing, guard rails, mixed agriculture, tzitzit, issues of marriage and adultery, slavery, sexual propriety, interest, vows, workers' rights, divorce, kidnapping, consideration for the orphan and the widow, support for the poor, Leverite marriage, the penalty for embarrassing another and honest weights and measures. Like I said, this portion covers a lot of territory. The parasha ends with the famous command to remember what Amalek did to the Israelites when they left Egypt.

Copyright: Kolel, The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning.

These summaries and introductions are used with permission of Kolel: The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning in Toronto, Canada. Kolel is a dynamic, pluralistic, egalitarian institution where men and women engage in Jewish learning which values both traditional and liberal interpretations. Kolel is a gateway into a richer expression of Judaism for each individual, wherever their journey of Jewish discovery may take them.

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