Weekly Torah - old

Ki Teitzei

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“The Torah recognizes the power of temptation.” This is one of the responses of the rabbis to the law about a captive woman. War brings out the worst (and occasionally the best) in us. So the Torah allows for a soldier under conditions of war to take a woman captive. But then there is a whole procedure to go through before he can give in to his lust (some disagreement as to whether first time or second) and finally he must marry her and make “an honest woman” of her.

The next episode concerns a man with two wives–one beloved and the other not. He cannot favor the sons of the preferred wife over the seniority of the children of the hated one. And this is followed by a law about a son, out of control, who threatens his parents.

Rabbinic tradition sees these as sequential for a good reason. If marriage is based only on lust then the relationship is bound to falter and may indeed turn into hatred. Check out the story of the rape of Tamar, King David’s daughter, by her half-brother. A loveless marriage is bound to affect the children, and this in turn leads to loss of respect, rebelliousness, and a breakdown in normal family life.

The Torah does indeed recognize human frailty. But at the same time emphasizes that there are consequences. Our actions and their motives certainly have an impact, for better or for worse!

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