This Week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Ki Tetzei (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19)

I discuss the weekly Torah portion with Rabbi Rabbs Mondays at 7:00 pm PST on my live cam and on YouTube. Facebook Fan Page.

This week we study Parashat Ki Tetzei (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19).

Watch the video.

* Rabbi Berel Wein: The Jewish people are now about to become a nation and to establish their own government in the Land of Israel. They will have to fight many battles, bloody and painful, to establish their right to the Land of Israel and to establish their sovereignty over the territory that it encompasses.

They will need an army, a civil government, a judicial system, an economy and labor force and all of the other necessary trappings that accompany nation building and establishing a territorial entity and effective government. In the face of these demands it will be likely that they will think that they may discard the spiritual yoke of the mitzvoth imposed upon them at Sinai.

* When I visit, there’s a pop-up that says: “Live chat! The rabbi is in!” I’m not used to chatting with rabbis on the internet. I’m more used to chatting with live n*** girls!

* The two wars in this week’s parasha:

The first war described in the beginning of the parsha is against an unknown, unspecified and unidentified enemy. It is so to speak, a generic war, fought for causes that are not clear and under undetermined circumstances. The second war described at the end of the parsha is fought against a bitter age-old foe, Amalek, and is a war of self-preservation.

The first war is not a mandatory one. The Torah prefaces it with the word “im” – when, if – you go to war. The second war is one of the mitzvoth of the Torah. It is obligatory on all. It is to save Israel from the hands of an enemy whose sole intention is to annihilate us. The wars therefore differ not only in purpose and cause but in intensity as well. In the war against Amalek we seek not temporary triumph but permanent achievement. We seek literally the obliteration of Amalek.

It is the fulfillment of the rabbinic dictum of the Talmud that “if one comes to kill you then rise earlier and kill him.” In our current world of relative morality and feel-good wishful thinking pacifism, this mitzvah about the destruction of Amalek makes us uncomfortable. Perhaps if we only reasoned with Amalek, appeased him somehow with concessions, he would calm down and be nice to us.

* Deut. 25:12. The Torah is so real. You see a beautiful woman and you desire her. You may take her under the following conditions. Most commentators say that he can take her one time on the spot and then wait a month for the rest of his fun. Or he could just go to some 12-step meetings for sex addiction.

* Rabbi Berel Wein: “The Torah tells us of sexual desires that force a soldier to make a bad choice in marriage. Overwhelmed with physical desire, he brings a stranger, a person who is probably completely incompatible into his home and life. The rabbis warn that his lust for her will turn eventually into shame and even hatred.” That has happened to me.

* You have to take every case where a physical or verbal intervention can help someone avoid a loss. (Deut. 22:3)

* Is it permitted for a man to dye his hair? Or is this copying the practices of women and therefore is forbidden?

* It’s important to build a parapet around your roof in case you want to get jiggly up there and you might fall. This also applies to swimming pools. How many kids have fallen into pools and drowned? In Australia, everyone learns to swim at a young age. The Talmud commands a father to teach his son to swim (there were many boating accidents in ancient Israel). I find a high percentage of Americans can’t swim. They panic in water. I remember a couple of years ago, I went away for the weekend with this woman. We were by the beach. I went diving into the breakers and swimming and she was so impressed by my grace.

* How important a quality in a potential spouse is virginity? I guess I’m a modern and I don’t think I care much, but the prospect of a virgin is exciting to me because it means there will be no invidious comparisons. I think virginity is special. Most societies through most of human history have valued virginity. I’d rather have a wife who has not had a lot of d***. I feel like every time a woman has a lover, it diminishes her.

* Deut. 22:14. The Torah wants to make it harder to make accusations against your spouse. If she simply shows a bloody sheet, she can prove her virginity. If she drinks some dusty water and doesn’t die, she’s free from accusations of adultery. I don’t think any Jewish woman had her belly swell up in such a circumstance.

* When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful,
a miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.
And all the birds in the trees, well they’d be singing so happily,
oh joyfully, oh playfully watching me.
But then they sent me away to teach me how to be sensible,
logical, oh responsible, practical.
And then they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,
oh clinical, oh intellectual, cynical.

There are times when all the world’s asleep,
the questions run too deep
for such a simple man.
Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned
I know it sounds absurd
but please tell me who I am
I said now watch what you say they’ll be calling you a radical,
a liberal, oh fanatical, criminal.
Won’t you sign up your name, we’d like to feel you’re
acceptable, respectable, oh presentable, a vegetable!
Oh Take it take it yeah!

But at night, when all the world’s asleep,
the questions run so deep
for such a simple man.
Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned
I know it sounds absurd
but please tell me who I am,
Who I am x 3 !!!

Who knows who’s so logical.

* Duet. 22:23, if a woman is getting attacked, she needs to cry out loudly. A little whimper won’t do it. Otherwise, she seems complicit.

* Many men use the pick-up line, “Scream and I’ll kill you!” This is not a Torah approach to dating.

* You can’t get it on with anyone who’s been with your father. Do you think that limitation has prevented you from getting married?

* A man whose reproductive organs have been severely damaged so that he is impotent, may not marry, unless this injury came about through natural means. (Artscroll on Deut. 23:2) Why does God hate men with crushed testicles or a severed phallus?

* Regarding the descendants of Amnon and Moab, “You shall not seek their peace or their welfare, all your days, forever.” (Deut. 23:7) Not exactly kumbeya.

* Deut. 23:18. “There shall not be a promiscuous woman among the daughters of Israel.” The most comprehensive sex survey conducted, by the University of Chicago, found that Jews were the most promiscuous group in America and Catholics the least.

Of all the items on a long list of sexual practices, only three were considered appealing by more than a tiny fraction of heterosexual Americans, and of those three, only one stood out. Heterosexuals overwhelmingly find vaginal intercourse appealing, and they include it in almost every sexual encounter. But no other practice is almost universally desired. Watching a partner undress is a distant second in appeal, followed by oral sex. While many people have experienced oral sex, it occurs in a minority of sexual encounters.”

Time: — There are a lot fewer active homosexuals in America than the oft-repeated 1 in 10. Only 2.7% of men and 1.3% of women report that they had homosexual sex in the past year.

More intriguing twists emerge when sexual behavior is charted by religious affiliation. Roman Catholics are the most likely to be virgins (4%) and Jews to have the most sex partners (34% have had 10 or more). The women most likely to achieve orgasm each and every time (32%) are, believe it or not, conservative Protestants. But Catholics edge out mainline Protestants in frequency of intercourse.

* Deut. 23:19: You shall not bring a harlot’s hire or the exchange for a dog to the House of Hashem. What’s wrong with a dog? You don’t see many Jews bringing their dogs to shul. Jews have traditionally not owned pets.

* Why can’t a woman write a man a bill of divorce? How come only men can write a divorce? The Torah portion says nothing precluding a woman writing a divorce.

* A man should gladden his wife. (Torah 24:5) Does this primarily mean sex? Or are there other equally important ways that a man can gladden his wife such as by hiring for her an illegal central American maid? Which such country produces the best maids? Honduras? Nicaragua? Costa Rica? Guatemala? El Salvador? Or should one follow the tradition and go Mexican?

* If you make a loan, you can’t enter someone’s home to take a security. You must respect people’s dignity. (Deut. 24:10)

* Deut. 24:16. Individual responsibility. In most parts of the world, your family is seen as an extension of you so if you do something horrible, your family will likely get hurt.

* Have the relationships agreements conversation before you go to Burning Man or Uman!

Is it okay for your partner to interrupt you having sex with someone else to get support from you, emotional or otherwise? If it’s not okay, can you be specific as to when it would be okay to interrupt you?
Is it okay for your partner to interrupt you spending non-sexual time with someone else for emotional support or otherwise? If not okay, can you be specific as to when it would be okay to interrupt you?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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