Parashat Ki Tetze

Remember! Don't Forget!

The many commandments in Judaism relating to remembering both positive and negative experiences motivate us to work towards redemption.

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Provided by the Union for Reform Judaism, the central body of Reform Judaism in North America.

Parashah Overview

  • Moses reviews a wide variety of laws regarding family, animals, and property. (Deuteronomy 21:10–22:12)

  • Various civil and criminal laws are delineated, including those regarding sexual relationships, interaction with non-Israelites, loans, vows, and divorce. (Deuteronomy 22:13–24:5)

  • Laws of commerce pertaining to loans, fair wages, and proper weights and measures are given. (Deuteronomy 24:10–25:16)

  • The parashah concludes with the commandment to remember for all time the most heinous act committed against the Israelites--Amalek's killing of the old, weak, and infirm after the Israelites left Egypt. (Deuteronomy 25:17–19)

Focal Point

When you reap the harvest in your field and overlook a sheaf in the field, do not turn back to get it; it shall go to the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow--in order that Adonai your God may bless you in all your undertakings. When you beat down the fruit of your olive trees, do not go over them again; that shall go to the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, do not pick it over again; that shall go to the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. Always remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore do I enjoin you to observe this commandment. (Deuteronomy 24:19–22)

Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey, after you left Egypt--how, undeterred by fear of God, he surprised you on the march, when you were famished and weary, and cut down all the stragglers in your rear. Therefore, when Adonai your God grants you safety from all your enemies around you, in the land that Adonai your God is giving you as a hereditary portion, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget! (Deuteronomy 25:17–19)

Your Guide

Parashat Ki Tetze contains a long list of seemingly random mitzvot (commandments). Rambam counted 72 military, social, legal, ritual, and ethical laws. What is the connection between the passages from Deuteronomy 24 and 25?

The first text states that if you leave what you've forgotten for the stranger, the orphan, and the widow, God will "bless you in all your undertakings." What do you think this blessing entails? Do you think that God blesses us when we act ethically?

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Richard Abrams, M.A.J.E., earned his master's degree in Jewish education at the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, HUC-JIR, Los Angeles. He is currently the director of marketing for the UAHC Press.