Parashat Ki Tetze continues to present a rich and varied collection of directives that serve as a partial blueprint for behaviours and norms to create a just society. It contains a mixture of seventy-two commandments, dealing with such diverse subjects as the treatment of captives, defiant children, animal welfare, property, sexual relationships, interaction with non-Israelites, loans, vows, and divorce, and laws of commerce pertaining to loans, fair wages, and proper weights and measures. The parashah concludes with the commandment to remember for all time Amalek’s killing of the old, weak, and infirm after the Israelites left Egypt.
The act of remembering is one of our major pillars in Judaism: Our calendar is full of remembrances from our past, and especially in the weeks before the High Holidays, it is important to review our past. Our memories shape us and guide us into our future. But not only in a personal sense, also in regards to our ethical behaviour and goals: our mission to repair the world. Like the memory of being once slaves in Egypt ourselves should remind us to wipe out slavery and to treat all people with dignity, our memories of leaving the corners of our fields untouched should remind us to take care of “the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow” both within and outside our community. Our memories of Amalek should remind us of our role to blot out evil in the world. Ours is an active existence: We can’t live in a state of forgetfulness or ignorance but in a state of memory and consciousness that leads us to make the world a better place. By doing so, we help realize the Baal Shem Tov’s words that “in remembrance lies the secret of redemption.”
[Sources: AJWS On1Foot Torah Commentary; The Jewish study bible.]
Readings at Bet David:
Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19 (Plaut p. 1322; Hertz p.840)
Haftarah Isaiah 54:1-10 (Plaut p.1345; Hertz p.857). *The fifth of seven Haftarot of consolation read between Tisha B’Av and Rosh Hashanah.