(Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19)

(Haftara: Yishayahu 54:1-10)

1. [21:12] “…and she shall cut her hair and grow her nails…”   The woman should make herself unattractive, and then if he still wants her, he may marry her.   It seems that the Torah wants him to be sure that he loves her and has not become infatuated with her appearance.  Why doesn’t the Torah tell every engaged couple to do the same thing?

2. [22:1]   “ …you must return them to your brother.”  The Torah and Torah literature speak at great length about the return of lost articles.  Why is the return of lost articles so important, and how does it affect the nature of our society?

3. There are many commandments of kindness in this week’s parsha. Who is more praiseworthy—the person who is naturally kind or the person who is not naturally kind, but acts in a kind way because he or she is commanded?

4. [Haftara: 54:7,8] God tells us here that His anger is for a moment, but His kindness is forever. The Rambam and other sources tell us that God does not have human qualities (except for kindness and love). If so, what does it mean when we say that God is angry? What is the purpose of God’s anger if He really is kind?

5. [Elul]  In the month of Elul, we blow the shofar every morning after the prayer service. Maimonides tells us that this is in order to wake us up.  What does it mean when we say that we are usually sleeping?

Commentary

[21:13] “And she should remove the clothing of her captivity…”

The base thoughts that a person has—thoughts of selfishness and lust—have within them a spark of holiness that yearns to be free and return to its source.  However, this holiness is covered, so to speak with dirty clothing. A person must remove the dirty clothing and the holiness within will shine like the morning light.

–R. Israel Baal Shem Tov (1700-1760)

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava—Eli Zucker

And this study page is dedicated to the memory of Ron ben Malka and Efrayim–Ronald Morritt