A SHORT STUDY OF KI SATZE, Deut. 21:10-25:19:
Moshe opened his swansong, Deut., with a sweeping retrospective overview of the Exodus generation and Israel's Divine Mission. In 4:44, he started his second discourse-the religious foundations of the Covenant, together with a detailed review of the Torah's laws, continuing thru Ch. 26. Each law is connected to that which precedes it (see Ibn Ezra). Moshe now completes the rules of Jewish War. A soldier may sleep once with a captive pagan woman and marry her, if she abandons idolatry for Judaism; once he's done so, she has the full rights of a Jewish wife. A firstborn son merits a double portion of inheritance, even if his father prefers another wife to his mother. A stubborn and rebellious son is stoned, before he goes on to worse sin; most say that this law is never applied, and is just intended to be a warning to discipline children. All who are stoned were also hung for a day (all death penalties are only inflicted when witnesses testify that the sinner was warned and defiant, and that they saw the act).
CH. 22: The finder of a lost object must try to return it; help another (but you needn't do his work instead of him), if his animal falls. Don't dress as the opposite sex (but nothing's wrong with women wearing modest feminine slacks), nor take a mother bird with its young or eggs. A roof must be safely fenced; grain and grapes may not be sown together. Don't work a kosher (e.g. ox) and a non-kosher (e.g. ass) animal together (or any distinct species, per the rabbis-S.H. 550), and don't wear wool mixed with linen, except for ritual fringes. A betrothed woman, guilty of adultery, is stoned, as is her paramour; if her fiance falsely accuses her, he's fined, given lashes, and may never divorce her. The Torah stresses, however, that if she was possibly raped, she is guiltless. One who rapes an unmarried virgin is fined and must marry her, if she wishes, unless she's a forbidden relation, and may never divorce her against her will.
CH. 23: An emasculated man, bastard, Amonite, or Moabite may not marry an Israelite woman. Third generation Edomite and Egyptian converts may do so. The Jewish military and Levite camps (as the Temple Mount today) must be holy and pure. A heathen slave who flees to Israel and Judaism is not to be returned to his master or abused in any way. Harlotry is forbidden to Jews. Authorities differ as to the inclusion of extra-marital sexual relations. The wages of harlotry and the proceeds of sale of a dog are forbidden as holy offerings. Jews may not lend to other Jews with interest. Pledged offerings must be brought within 3 festivals. Religious vows must be fulfilled. Laborers may eat free, but only of that produce with which they're working.
CH. 24: One may not remarry his divorcee who had remarried. A new groom is to remain at home for a year. One may not take articles necessary to prepare food as a pledge. A kidnapper who sold his victim into slavery is killed. Signs of tzaraat (a Divine affliction) must not be effaced. A pledged object may not be taken from a debtor by force, nor may it be withheld from its owner, when he needs it. Wages and rent must be paid on time. One's close relatives may not testify about him. One must not prevert justice re a convert or orphan, nor take a loan pledge from a widow. Some sheaves and fruit are to be left for the poor, who also get those forgotten.
CH. 25: Tho courts must sometimes administer whiplashes, they are strictly defined and one must not otherwise strike any Jew. A domestic animal must not be muzzled in its work. The laws of Levirate marriage and its dissolution, chalitza, are set forth. Stop a murderer or rapist by killing or maiming him, if necessary. One may not even possess inaccurate weights or measures. Evil Amalek must be remembered and eventually exterminated by Israel (cf. Hitler, Saddam, Arafat).
THE HAFTORA is IS. 54:1-10. Barren Israel is to be joyously revived, and will have to make room for all her children (cf. today). God's anger will appear as but a moment in eternity, when Israel is restored and her ruins rebuilt. His covenant with Israel is even more enduring than His laws of nature. When, as in 1995, Shabbat R'ey is Rosh Chodesh Elul, it's usual haftora of consolation, Is. 54:11-55:5, is not read by Ashkanazim, but added on to this haftora. Frankforters do the same when Shabbat R'ey is the day before Rosh Chodesh Elul.
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