"Why do we need to to awakened by the shofar during Elul after Shacharit?"
“Why do we need to to awakened by the shofar during Elul after Shacharit?”

Learning Group—Parshat Ki Tetzay

(Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19)

(Haftara: Isaiah 54:1-10)

1. [22:1] “ …you must return them to your brother.” The matter of lost articles and their return to their owners is an important issue in halacha and in Chassidut. A complete and rather long tractate in the Talmud is devoted to this topic. Why is this matter so important in our social lives and in our psychological-spiritual lives?

2. [22:4] “…lift them up with him.” The Torah tells us that we must help a person who needs help. Rashi and other commentaries further tell us that we must help only if the other person also lifts, but not if he expects us to do it all. How is this an excellent model for helping people? Are there times when one should help even if the other person does not take part?

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

[22:4] “You shall not see your brother’s donkey fallen by the way…you will certainly lift it up with him (“hakem takim imo”).

Why is there a repetition in Hebrew of the word “lift it up”?

When a person is helping someone else, he or she is also helping himself and herself. By helping another, one is fixing one’s personal qualities so that one becomes or remains honest and loving. One helps the other and also helps oneself.

–The “Sfat Emet”, Rebbe Yehudah Leib Alter of Gur (1847-1905)

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer

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