Parshat Ki-Teyze

(To prepare for this shiur,
see the questions for self study.)

Mitzvot, and more mitzvot; all kinds of mitzvot. That certainly sums up Parshat Ki-Teitze; but why here? And why in such a seemingly random order?

In this week's shiur we attempt to answer these questions by considering (once again) the overall structure of the 'main speech' of Sefer Devarim. While doing so, we will also explore a possible parallel between the Ten Commandments and the mitzvot in Sefer Devarim.

Background/Review
Recall from previous shiurim that Parshat Ki-Teyze appears towards the end of Moshe Rabeinu's main speech, which began back in Parshat Va'etchanan (chapters 5-26). Therefore, before we begin our study, let us quickly review the basic structure of that monologue:
Introduction (5:1-6:3)
A review of the events at Har Sinai: when these mitzvot were originally given and why Bnei Yisrael heard them from Moshe (and not directly from God).
The 'Mitzvah' Section (chapters 6-11)
Mitzvot relating primarily to "ahavat Hashem": the proper attitude towards God and the basic obligation to observe His mitzvot.
The 'Chukim & Mishpatim' Section (chapters 12-26)
[Parshiyot Re'ay, Shoftim & Ki-Teyze]
A wide assortment of mitzvot pertaining to everyday life in the Land of Israel.

Although Parshat Ki-Teyze forms an integral part of the chukim & mishpatim section, its mitzvot differ substantially from those presented in Parshiyot Re'ay and Shoftim. Recall that the mitzvot presented in those two Parshiyot focused on the establishment of national institutions. For example:
Re'ay The National Center: HaMakom Asher Yivchar Hashem...
Laws pertaining to that center, laws of shmita etc.
Shoftim National Leadership - judges, king, navi, etc.
The designation of cities of refuge
Special laws for when the nation goes to war, and so on.

Here, in Parshat Ki-Teyze, the focus shifts. We move from mitzvot related to the nation as a whole to mitzvot directed towards the individual. The mitzvot in Parshat Ki-Teyze cover a very wide range of topics, but they virtually all share a common denominator: they relate to the behavior of the individual, rather than national policy and procedure. [I suggest you quickly leaf through the Parsha to verify that this is so; there are simply too many examples to quote.]

Besides pertaining to individual behavior, these mitzvot also relate primarily [but not exclusively] to man's relationship with his fellow man - better known as "mitzvot bein adam l'chaveiro."

A Logical Progression
One could suggest a very logical reason for this order of presentation. Considering that the purpose of these mitzvot in the main speech is Bnei Yisrael's creation of an "am kadosh" [holy nation] in the land they are about to conquer (see 6:1 & 26:16-19), this section must address first and foremost the establishment of the national institutions. Once this national framework is achieved (e.g. a judicial system, an organized system of educators and national leaders, a national center, etc.), a more suitable environment will exist to facilitate and encourage the fulfillment of the numerous mitzvot "bein adam l'chaveiro" that relate to the daily life of each individual. Without an organized court system and a functioning political entity, it would be quite difficult to establish a society characterized by "tzedek u'mishpat."

Although this line reasoning adequately explains the overall structure of this unit, the progression from Parshat Shoftim to Parshat Ki-Teyze, it does not account for the internal sequence within this Parsha. To explain this arrangement, our shiur will follow the approach of Rav David Tzvi Hoffman, who demonstrates that that the mitzvot of the main speech in Sefer Devarim follow the order of the Asseret Ha'dibrot [Ten Commandments].

The Parallel to the Dibrot
To properly identify and appreciate this parallel, we must first draw a distinction between the first two commandments and the remaining eight.

Recall that the first two dibrot deal primarily with the concept of "emunah," fundamental belief in God, and the consequent prohibition against worshipping other so-called deities. As such, these two dibrot form the very foundation of our relationship with God. The remaining eight commandments involve concrete, practical mitzvot, through which this fundamental principle is implemented and manifest in daily life.

[Recall as well that the first two dibrot are recorded in first person, while the remaining eight are in third person.]

Correspondingly, the mitzvot of the main speech of Sefer Devarim also divide into two very distinct categories:
1) The mitzvah section, dealing primarily with the issue of "emunah"
[parallel to the first two dibrot];
2) The chukim & mishpatim section, the practical mitzvot
[parallel to the remaining eight dibrot].

[See board #1]

Taking this parallel one step further, one may suggest that the dibrot also provide the general framework for all the mitzvot in the main speech of Sefer Devarim. In other words, the mitzvot of the main speech progress in topical order, similar and corresponding to the sequence of the dibrot. Each group of mitzvot 'expands' upon the underlying principle of each "dibur."

[To borrow an analogy from hilchot shabbat, the dibrot serve as "avot" (primary categories), while the mitzvot in the main speech may be considered "toladot" (secondary categories).]

The rationale for this parallel is clear. The mitzvot of the main speech are the laws to be observed upon entering the Land (see 6:1). Thus, these laws apply the abstract principles established in the dibrot to the realities of life in the Land of Israel - conquering, occupying, settling and establishing a nation.

See board #7 for a table which shows how our analysis works.

[Before analyzing this structure in detail, a word of clarification is in order. The fact that the dibrot create the framework for the entire speech does not mean that there can be no digression whatsoever from this general arrangement. The dibrot merely establish a general pattern; this does not constrain the internal structure of the individual parshiyot. We may (and should) find isolated exceptions to this structure, but they in no way undermine or violate the general pattern.]

Let's take a few minutes to explain the parallels cited in the table above.

The 'Mitzvah' Section and the First Two Dibrot
As we explained in detail in our shiur on Parshat Va'etchanan, the mitzvah section of the main speech contains primarily mitzvot relating to "ahavat Hashem" as well as numerous warnings against "avodah zara" (worshipping other gods). These mitzvot of the mitzvah section simply apply the principles of the first two "dibrot" to the realities of conquering and settling the Land (see board #2).

For example, to ensure God's assistance and continued "hashgacha" (providence) throughout the conquest, Bnei Yisrael must maintain the proper religious outlook and exhibit general belief in, and devotion to, God ("Anochi..."). They must also be careful not to fall into the trap of 'over-confidence' or fall prey to the influences of the decadent Canaanite culture (Lo Y'hiyeh...").

[Scan chapters 6-11 to verify this point. Pay particular attention to 11:22-23.]

The 'Chukim & Mishpatim' Section
Likewise, the mitzvot in the "chukim u'mishpatim" section apply the underlying principles of the remaining "dibrot" to the realities of forming a nation in the Promised Land. We will now explain how each general topic in this section relates to its corresponding "dibur":

Lo Tisa (chapters 12-14)
As we explained in our shiur on Parshat Re'ay, the primary topic of these chapters is hamakom asher yivchar Hashem l'shakein shmo sham. In order to make God's Name great (both to ourselves and to other nations), Bnei Yisrael must build a Bet Ha'Mikdash, frequent that site, and gather there on the national holidays.

This commandment relates to the third dibur - not to utter God's Name in vain. Just as it is forbidden to defile His Name through irreverent and inappropriate misuse, so is it imperative that we proclaim His Name in the proper manner. The primary vehicle designated by the Torah to accomplish this goal is the Bet HaMikdash - "bamakom asher yivchar... l'shakein shmo sham" (see Melachim I 8:15-21,41-43!) (see board #3).

At this site the Leviim sing and praise God (see 10:8, 21:5), proclaiming and sanctifying His Name. Ideally, the Bet HaMikdash leads all mankind towards the recognition of the Name of God (see Isaiah 2:1-4, Melachim I 8:41-42).

[To confirm this point, simply read the second paragraph of the "Aleinu l'shabei'ach" prayer, the section of "al kein n'kaveh..." (in case you never paid attention to the words before).]

[The 'digressions' from this theme in Parshat Re'ay, i.e. the warnings against those who encourage idolatry (chapter 13) and the dietary laws (14:3-21), may also relate to this general theme. The worship of other gods by definition detracts from God's Name and honor, and the dietary laws involve the general obligation to be an "am kadosh" (14:2,21). In our shiur on Parshat Kedoshim, we connected this topic to the Mishkan, as well.]

Shabbat [Devarim chapters 15-16]
In the second half of Parshat Re'ay, we find two types of "toladot" or derivations of shabbat. First, there appears the law of shmita, which follows a seven year cycle, similar to the seven-day cycle of Shabbat. These laws require that we rest from working the land on the seventh year. In fact, we can even consider the laws of "maaser sheni" & "maaser ani" - which are functions of this seven year shmita cycle - as the beginning of this section and a suitable 'transition' from the topic of "hamakom asher yivchar Hashem" (note 14:22-23).

The second "toladah" is the "shalosh regalim" - the three pilgrimage holidays described in chapter 16. Their most basic and obvious resemblance to shabbat is the prohibition of work (note Vayikra 23:1-3). Furthermore, the number seven emerges as the prominent number in the context of these holidays. For example, on Chag Ha'matzot we celebrate seven days (16:3, note also 16:8! - cute?) and then we count seven weeks until Shavuot (16:9). On Succot, we once again celebrate for seven days (16:13) (see board #4).

[In fact, these holidays are actually referred to as "shabbatot" in Parshat Emor! The laws of "bechor," which precede this section (15:19-23), clearly connect to the discussion that immediately follows, the laws of Pesach (see Shmot 13:1-2,11).]

"Kabed et Avicha..." - Honoring Parents (16:18 -18:22)
The concept of respecting authority at the family level can easily be expanded to the national level as well, thus requiring us to honor our national leaders. Therefore, the next general topic - the national institutions of leadership: the shofet, kohen, levi, navi, and melech - can be understood as a "toladah" of "kibud horim" (see board #5). This section includes the laws regarding proper and effective leadership - judges, officers, priests, the king, and nevi'im - as well as laws pertaining to leaders who must be eliminated: those who lead others to idol worship (17:2-7), false prophets (18:20-22), and dissenters who disobey and snub the authority figures (see 17:12).

Lo Tirtzach [chapters 19-21]
The "toladot" of "lo tirtzach" are the most obviously identifiable, as almost all the laws in these three chapters expand upon (or apply) this dibur. For example:
Cities of Refuge - "arei miklat" (19:1-10);
How to conduct war (20:1-20);
"Eglah arufa" (21:1-9) - an entire city takes responsibility for a homicide perpetrated in its vicinity;
Yfat Toar (21:10-15) - laws relating to prisoners of war;
Ben Sorer U'Moreh (21:18-21)- the obligation to kill a rebellious son;
Hanging the body of a criminal executed by Bet-din (21:22-23);
The mitzva of "ma'akeh l'gagecha" - putting a fence on one's roof to prevent accidental death (22:8-9), etc.

[See board #6]

[Many laws presented in this section digress from the specific context of murder and related issues. However, even those digressions relate in one form or other to mitzvot "bein adam l'chaveiro" (see board #7).]

Lo Tinaf [22:10-23:19]
This section includes various laws relating to forbidden sexual relationships. For example:
"Motzi shem ra" (22:13-21);
The classic 'affair' (22:22);
The various instances of "naara ham'orasa" (22:23-29);
Forbidden marriages (23:1-9) and harlotry (23:18-19).

[See board #8]

[Once again, this section contains several other laws, in addition to these derivations of "lo tinaf." Many of these digressions are tangentially related to the central theme. The prohibition of "kilyaim" (working two animals together) and "shatnez" (weaving two types of thread) [22:10-11] may be perceived as relating to illegal marital relationships. Likewise, the mitzvah of tzizit (22:12) could be understood as a prevention of "lo tinaf," as suggested by Bamidbar 15:39.]

Lo Tignov (23:20-26)
The prohibition against taking interest (23:20-21);
Stealing from "hekdesh" by neglecting one's vow (23:22);
Stealing produce from one's neighbor's field (23:25-26).

[See board #9]

Various other toladot of "lo tignov" sneak in at different places throughout Parshat Ki-Teyze, mostly as 'digressions' within other sections (see below).

Lo Ta'aneh B'rei'acha Eid Shaker (19:15-21)
The situation of "eidim zom'mim" could be considered a "toladah" of "lo ta'aneh..." It is included in the "lo tirtzach" section as a 'digression' from the laws of capital punishment (19:11-13) [see board #10]. Admittedly, this case does not fit 'perfectly' into the overall structure, but is included within the framework of "bein adam l'chaveiro" (see below).

Lo Tachmod (chapter 24)
"Lo tachmod" is so general that almost any law can be considered its toladah. Most likely, the laws of divorce (24:1-4) and the prohibition of the divorcee to remarry his remarried wife prevent a 'legal affair' (read 24:4 carefully), and could be considered a toladah of coveting (see board #11).

Also, throughout the mitzvot in Parshat Ki-Teyze we find many references to "rei'echa" (as in "v'chol asher l'rei'echa 5:17), such as the laws of eating while walking through one's neighbor's vineyard or field (see 23:25-26). These laws could also be considered toladot of "lo tachmod."

VI-X: An Important Note
As we noted several times in our analysis, we encounter many exceptions to this general pattern within Parshat Ki-Teyze (what we have called "digressions"). Not all the mitzvot line up perfectly as toladot of each dibur in exact sequence. Additionally, the various "toladot" of the last five dibrot seem intermingled within these chapters. Nonetheless, almost all the mitzvot in this Parsha are "toladot" of at least one of the last five "dibrot."

One could suggest that these final five "dibrot" actually comprise a single, general category - "mitzvot bein adam l'chaveiro." They all involve conduct and relationships amongst people.

[Significantly, within the "Aseret ha'Dibrot" these final five commandments are merged into one pasuk (according to the "ta'am tachton").]

The Finale
The final mitzvot of the chukim u'mishpatim section include the mitzvah to destroy Amalek (25:17-19) and "mikra bikurim" (26:1-15).

One could view the law of destroying Amalek as a "tolada" of "lo tirtzach" and the finale of this unit of the last five dibrot. [Why this mitzvah was chosen to close this unit will be discussed iy"H in a shiur for Parshat Zachor.]

Similarly, the laws of "mikra bikurim" in chapter 26 complete the topic of "ha'makom asher yivchar Hashem" and hence close the entire "chukim & mishpatim" section which now forms a chiastic structure. [We will deal with this parsha iy"H in next week's shiur.]

Significance
This parallel emphasizes the fact that all of Torah originates from Har Sinai. The "Dibrot" serve as "avot," the very basic principles of the covenant between God and Bnei Yisrael at Har Sinai. Their application in the mitzvot of the main speech of Sefer Devarim serve as "toladot," which govern our national and individual conduct. This model of 'avot and toladot' teaches us that we must apply the principles of Matan Torah to every aspect of daily life.

Furthermore, this model teaches us that when we apply the principles of the dibrot, we raise them to a higher level. For example, not only is one forbidden to steal, one is also required to return a lost item to its owner. The laws of "hashavat aveidah" and the obligation to help even one's neighbor's animal in distress, both "toladot" of "lo tignov," expand the fundamental precept established by this "dibur" to maintain a heightened sensitivity to the property of others, beyond the actual prohibition of stealing.

Expanding the principles of Har Sinai to every aspect of our daily life, as exemplified by Sefer Devarim, forms the basis and foundation of our development into an "am kadosh."

Virtual ClassRoom enhancements by Ronni Libson.

For Further Iyun
A. As explained in earlier shiurim, Parshat Mishpatim, which was transmitted after Matan Torah at Har Sinai, also features a collection of mitzvot, quite similar to the main speech in Sefer Devarim.
1) Skim through that set of mitzvot (20:19-23:33) and try to find within its structure a parallel to the "Dibrot."
2) Can you detect the chiastic structure towards the end?

B. Aside from Parshat Mishpatim and Sefer Devarim, the only other collection of laws focusing on issues "bein adam l'chaveiro" appears in Parshat Kedoshim.
1) Examine that Parsha, and see if you can find a parallel to the "dibrot."

C. Use the above shiur to explain why Moshe deemed it necessary to repeat the dibrot in chapter 5, as part of his introduction to the main speech.

D. Relate the nature of shabbat in the dibrot as recorded in Parshat Va'etchanan (as opposed to the dibrot in Yitro) to the nature of the laws of shmita as recorded in Sefer Devarim (chapter 15) and in Parshat Behar. Pay particular attention to the aspect of social equality and justice, etc.


TSC Home