Deuteronomy 21:10 – 25:18
When you wage war against your enemies, HaShem will give you victory over them, so that you will take captives. If you see a beautiful woman among the prisoners and desire her, you may take her as a wife. In such a case, when you bring her home, she must shave off her head and let her fingernails grow. She must take off her captive’s garb and remain in your house a full month, mourning for her father and mother. Only then may you be intimate with her and possess her, making her your wife. If you do not desire her, however, you must send her away free. Since you have had your way with her, you may not sell her for cash or keep her as a servant.
The First-Born’s Share
This is the law when a man has two wives, one whom he loves and one whom he dislikes, and both the loved and unloved wives have sons, but the first-born is that of the unloved one. On the day that this man wills his property to his sons, he must not give the son of the beloved wife birthright preference over the first-born, who is the son of the unloved wife. Even if the first-born is the son of the hated wife, the father must recognize him so as to give him a double portion of all his property. Since this son is the first fruit of his father’s manhood, the birthright is legally his.
The Rebellious Son
When a man has a wayward, rebellious son, who does not obey his father and mother, they shall have him flogged. If he still does not listen to them, then his father and mother must grasp him and bring him to the elders of his city, to that area’s supreme court. The parents must declare to the elders of his city, ‘Our son here is wayward and rebellious. He does not listen to us, and is an exceptional glutton and drunkard.’ All the men of his city shall then pelt him to death with stones, so that you will rid yourself of the evil in your midst. When all Israel hears about it, they will fear.
Hanging and Burial
When a man is legally sentenced to death and executed, you must then hang him on a gallows. However, you may not allow his body to remain on the gallows overnight, but you must bury it on the same day. Since a person who has been hanged is a curse to HaShem, you must not let it defile the land that HaShem is giving you as a heritage.
Returning Lost Articles
If you see your brother’s ox or sheep going astray, you must not ignore them. You must return them to your brother. If your brother is not near you, or if you do not know who the owner is, you must bring the animal home and keep it until your brother identifies it, whereupon you must return it to him. You must do the same to a donkey, an article of clothing, or anything else that your brother loses and you find. You must not ignore it.
The Fallen Animal
If you see your brother’s donkey or ox fallen under its load on the road, you must not ignore it. You must help him pick up the load.
The Bird’s Nest
If you come across a bird’s nest on any tree or on the ground, and it contains baby birds or eggs, then, if the mother is sitting on the chicks or eggs, you must not take the mother along with her young. You must first chase away the mother, and only then may you take the young. If you do this you will have it good, and will live long.
Guard-Rails; Mixed Agriculture
When you build a new house, you must place a guard-rail around your roof. Do not allow a dangerous situation to remain in your house, since someone can fall from an unenclosed roof. Do not plant different species in your vineyard. If you do so the yield of both the crops you planted and the fruit of the vineyard will be forfeit.
Do not plow with an ox and donkey together. Do not wear a forbidden mixture, where wool and linen are together in a single garment.
Make yourself bound tassels on the four corners of the garment with which you cover yourself.
Penalty for Adultery
If a man is found lying with a married woman, both the woman and the man lying with her shall be put to death. You shall thus rid Israel of evil.
An Ammonite or Moabite man may not enter HaShem’s marriage group. They may never enter HaShem’s marriage group, even after the tenth generation. This is because they did not greet you with bread and water when you were on the way out of Egypt, and also because they hired Balaam son of Beor from Pethor in Aram Naharaim to curse you. Of course, HaShem did not consent to listen to Balaam, and HaShem transformed the curse into a blessing for you, since HaShem loves you. You must never seek peace or anything good with these nations, as long as you exist. Do not despise the Edomite, since he is your brother. Do not despise the Egyptian, since you were an immigrant in his land.Therefore, children born to members of these nations in the third generation after becoming proselytes may enter HaShem’s marriage group.
The Army Camp
When you go out as a camp against your enemies, you must avoid everything evil. This is because HaShem makes his presence known in your camp, so as to deliver you and grant you victory over your enemy. Your camp must therefore be holy. Let Him not see anything lascivious among you, and turn away from you.
If a slave seeks refuge with you from his master, you must not turn him back over to his master. He must be allowed to live alongside you wherever he chooses in your settlements. You must do nothing to hurt his feelings.
Do not deduct advance interest from your brother, whether it is interest for money, interest for food, or interest for anything else for which interest is normally taken. Although you may take such interest from a gentile, you may not do so from your brother. If you keep this rule, HaShem will bless you in all your endeavors on the land to which you are coming to occupy.
When you make a pledge to HaShem , do not be late in paying it, since HaShem will then demand it, and you will have committed a sin. If you refrain from making vows completely, then you will not sin. But when you have spoken, be careful of your word and keep the pledge that you have vowed to HaShem .
The Worker in a Vineyard
When you come to work in your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat as many grapes as you desire to satisfy your hunger. However, you may not put any into a receptacle that you may have.
The Field Worker
When you come to work in your neighbor’s standing grain, you may take the ears with your hand. However, you may not lift the sickle for your own benefit in your neighbor’s grain.
Divorce and Remarriage
When a man marries a woman or possesses her, if she is displeasing to him or if he has evidence of sexual misconduct on her part, he shall write her a bill of divorce and place it in her hand, thus releasing her from his household. When she thus leaves his household, she may go and marry another man. However, if her second husband hates her, and therefore writes her a bill of divorce, placing it in her hand and releasing her from his household, or if her second husband dies, then her first husband who divorced her cannot remarry her, since she is now forbidden to him. To do so would be repulsive to HaShem, and you must not bring immorality to the land that HaShem is giving you as a heritage.
The New Bridegroom
When a man takes a new bride, he shall not enter military service or be assigned to any associated duty. He must remain free for his family for one year, when he can rejoice with his bride. Do not take an upper or lower millstone as security for a loan, since that is like taking a life as security.
If a man kidnaps a fellow Israelite, forces him to serve and then sells him, when the kidnapper is caught, he shall be put to death. You shall thus rid yourself of the evil in your midst.
Be careful with regard to leprous signs and carefully keep the rules. Be very careful to do all that the Levitical priests decide for you, as I have commanded them. Remember what HaShem did to Miriam on your way out of Egypt.
Security for Loans
When you make any kind of loan to your neighbor, do not go into his house to take something as security. You must stand outside, and the man who has the debt to you shall bring the security outside to you. If the man is poor, you may not go to sleep holding his security. Return it to him at sundown, so that he will be able to sleep in his garment and bless you. You will then have charitable merit before HaShem .
Paying Wages on Time
Do not withhold the wages due to your poor or destitute hired hand, whether he is one of your brethren or a proselyte living in a settlement in your land. You must give him his wage on the day it is due, and not let the sun set with him waiting for it. Since he is a poor man, and his life depends on it, do not let him call out to HaShem, causing you to have a sin.
Testimony of Close Relatives
Fathers shall not die through the testimony of their sons, and sons shall not die through the testimony of their fathers, since in any case every man shall die for his sins.
Widows and Orphans
Do not pervert justice for the proselyte or orphan. Do not take a widow’s garment as security for a loan. You must remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and HaShem then liberated you. It is for that reason that I am commanding you to do this.
When you reap your grain harvest and forget a sheaf in the field, you must not go back to get it. It must be left for the foreigner, orphan and widow, so that HaShem will bless you, no matter what you do.
When you beat the fruit from your olive tree, do not pick the last remaining fruit, since it must be left for the foreigner, orphan and widow. When you gather the grapes in your vineyard, do not strip the last grapes, but let them remain for the foreigner, orphan and widow. I am commanding you to do this because you must remember that you were a slave in Egypt.
A trial shall be an adversary proceeding where a verdict is handed down, acquitting the innocent and convicting the guilty. If the guilty man has incurred the penalty of flogging, the judge shall make him lean over, and have him flogged with a fixed number of lashes for his crime. Do not go beyond the limit and give him forty lashes. You may not give him a more severe flogging, striking him any more than this, since your brother will then be degraded in your presence. Do not muzzle an ox when it is treading grain.
If a man is fighting with his brother, and the wife of one comes to defend her husband, grabbing his attacker by his private parts, you must cut off her hand if necessary, to save her victim and not have any pity.
Weights and Measures
You must not keep in your pouch two different weights, one large and one small. Similarly, you must not keep in your house two different measures, one large and one small. You must have a full honest weight and a full honest measure. If you do, you will long endure on the land that HaShem is giving you. Conversely, anyone who is dishonest and has dishonest weights or measures is repulsive to HaShem.
Remember what Amalek did to you on your way out of Egypt. When they encountered you on the way, and you were tired and exhausted, they cut off those lagging to your rear, and they did not fear HaShem. Therefore, when HaShem gives you peace from all the enemies around you in the land that HaShem is giving you to occupy as a heritage, you must obliterate the memory of Amalek from under the heavens. You must not forget.
This is the fifth of seven “Prophecies of Comfort” that are read between the 9th of Av and Rosh Hashanah
In our Haftara HaShem comforts the people saying that barren women will give birth and abandoned cities will thrive again. The key to survival of the Jewish nation is being fruitful and multiplying and HaShem will bless the nation with that.
- Forty-Ninth of 54 Sedras in the Torah
- Written on 213 lines in the Sefer Torah
- 110 P’sukim (verses)
- 1,582 words
- 5,856 letters
Next week’s Parashat: Ki Tavo