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זכור את אשר עשה לך עמלק ... תמחה את זכר עמלק מתחת השמים

Remember what Amalek did to you… you shall wipe out the memory of Amalek from beneath the heaven. (25: 17,19)

The parshah begins with a war against our enemies and concludes with the war we are to wage constantly against our archenemy: Amalek. Horav Chaim Shmuelevitz, zl, asserts that Amalek is not merely one solitary nation. Amalek is a concept, symbolizing any group of people bent on destroying the Jew’s relationship with Hashem. They employ every weapon, every idea, that puts questions in the mind of the Jew, to cool off his passion to serve Hashem, to ever so slightly convince him to water down his obedience to the Almighty. Amalek convinces us (or forces us) to believe that we…

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וכי והיה באיש חטא משפט מות והומת ... לא תלין נבלתו על העץ... כי קללת אלקים תלוי

If a man shall have committed a sin whose judgment is death, he shall be put to death …His body shall not remain for the night on the gallows… For a hanging person is a curse of G-d. (21:22,23)

We see from the above halachah how exceptional we are to Hashem. For one who has committed a capital offense, the punishment is meted out via stoning. (He committed idolatry or blasphemy.) The corpse is then hung on a gallows, but must be taken down and buried before nightfall, since a human being is created in the image of Hashem. (Indeed, Hashem calls us His children.) Thus, the hanging corpse is an affront to Hashem. Rashi likens this to the twin brother of the king who was executed for an act of thievery. An innocent onlooker who passes by might…

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איננו שמע בקול אביו ובקול אמו

Who does not hearken to the voice of his father and the voice of his mother. (21:18)

The parshah which deals with the ben sorer u’moreh, the wayward and rebellious child, is one of the most difficult parshiyos to address. As a rule, pikuach nefesh, saving a Jewish life, pushes aside Shabbos. Yet, the young ben sorer – who so far has not committed an act of defiance that carries capital punishment – is sentenced to death, due to what he might (possibly will) do one day when he is unable to satisfy his desires. He could take an innocent life. Apparently, the Torah, with its far-reaching perspective, views his execution as necessary, as it is better…

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כי תצא למלחמה על איביך... ושבית שביו

When you go out to war against your enemies… And you will capture its captivity. (21:10)

Every Jew fights a war, a battle for his spiritual future. The enemy is the yetzer hora, evil inclination, who is cunning and tireless. He will not give up until he wins, or is taken captive under the control of the person whom he has attempted to ensnare in his web of deceit. Parashas Ki Seitzei is replete with lessons and ideas on how to live appropriately, the values we should maintain, the ethical imperatives which should guide our lives and the moral compass to which we should adhere. In short, the parshah teaches us how to be an observant…

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כי יקח איש אשה חדשה... נקי יהיה לביתו... ושימח את אשתו

When a man marries a new wife… he shall be free for his home for one year, and he shall gladden his wife. (24:5)

In one of the sheva brachos, seven nuptial blessings, we recite the following: Asher bara sasson v’simchah, chassan v’kallah, gilah, rinah, ditzah, v’chedvah, ahavah, v’achavah, v’shalom v’reius; “Who created joy and gladness, groom and bride, mirth, glad song, pleasure, delight, love, brotherhood, peace and companionship.” Why do the words chassan v’kallah, groom and bride, precede all of the wonderful, varied expressions of joy? Horav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner, zl, explains that the unique love, harmony and sense of brotherhood that reigns in a marriage, is a spiritual blessing from Hashem which He grants to the young couple following their commencement of…

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לא יבא עמוני ומואבי בקהל ד'... על דבר אשר לא קדמו אתכם בלחם ומים... ואשר שכר עליך את בלעם בן בעור... לקללך

Neither an Amoni nor a Moavi may enter the congregation of Hashem… because they did not greet you with bread and water… and because he hired Bilaam ben Be’or… to curse you. (23:4,5)

An Amoni or Moavi, even after he has fully converted to Judaism, is forever barred from marrying a Jewish woman. The reason for this exclusion: A) They did not greet us nicely when we were journeying towards Eretz Yisrael; B) They hired Bilaam to curse us. Their lack of chesed, acting kindly, appears to be more of a character flaw than a sin. Clearly, such a moral stain should disappear over time. We have been persecuted, hounded and murdered by so many nations. Yet, their character flaws do not seem to present a hindrance to their acceptance as converts. Why…

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השב תשיבם לאחיך

You shall surely return them to you brother. (22:1)

Horav Shmuel Hominer, zl (Eved HaMelech), writes that included in the mitzvah of Hasheiv teshiveim, the obligation to return a lost article to its rightful owner, likewise applies with regard to the spiritual sphere. One Jew is responsible for the other. Therefore, if my brother is plagued with a spiritual shortcoming, my attitude should not be: “How does this involve me? He is responsible for his life. I am responsible for mine.” It does not work that way. We are responsible for one another. One should not ignore his fellow’s plight by turning a blind eye to his spiritual failings….

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ובערת הרע מקרבך וכל ישראל ישמעו ויראו

And you shall destroy the evil from your midst; and all of Yisrael shall hear, and they shall fear. (21:21)

Rashi comments: A ben sorer u’moreh, wayward and rebellious son, is put to death due to his end. The Torah foresaw the culmination of his way of thinking. He will eventually exhaust his father’s money, and, in order to maintain his habit, will be compelled to steal. A time will come when stealing will not come easily. At this point, he will resort to murder. Chazal teach: Let him die as an innocent person (before he kills someone) and not die as a guilty person. This refers to an inconsistency in a prior episode in the Torah, when the infant…

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ותפשו בו אביו ואמו... ואמרו בננו זה סורר ומורה

Then his father and mother shall grasp him… They shall say… “This son of ours is wayward and rebellious.” (21:19,20)

The Mishnah in Sanhedrin (71a) states that both parents must be on the same page with regard to their son’s behavior – or lack thereof. If the father claims that he is incorrigible and the mother disagrees, or vice versa, the boy is not deemed a ben sorer u’moreh. Furthermore, he is executed after being found guilty only if neither parent forgives him. If, however, even after he has been warned and has received malkos, lashes, he sins again, if his parents forgive him, he is not put to death. This idea requires elucidation. He is executed because of how…

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כי תצא למלחמה על איבך ונתנו ד' אלקיך בידך

When you will go out to war against your enemies, and Hashem your G-d will deliver them/him into your hand. (21:10)

The pasuk begins with lashon rabim: plural, oyvecha, your enemies; and concludes with lashon yachid, singular: u’nesano, will deliver him. This teaches us, explains Horav Bunim, zl, m’Peshischa, that we actually have only one enemy, but he has different names. He cites the Talmud (Succah 52a), “The yetzer hora, evil inclination, has seven names.” This is reference to the various images, metaphors, for describing the yetzer hora and its deleterious effect on people. Obviously, every individual has a different relationship with and understanding of the yetzer hora. To some, he is an enemy; to others, he is an obstacle or…

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