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אשר קרך בדרך

Who chanced upon you on the way. (25:18)

Rashi comments, “Amalek cooled you off from your burning heat.” The nations feared the Jewish People, thus, they distanced themselves from any altercation with them. Amalek assuaged their fears. This may be compared to a scalding hot bath which everyone fears entering. Suddenly, one man comes along and jumps in. He is scalded, but now others no longer fear the bath. He “cooled” it off for others. The analogy seems incorrect. On the contrary, once the people observe the burn status of the man who jumped in, they will surely stay away. Likewise, once the nations saw what happened to…

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אשר קרך בדרך ויזנב בך כל הנחשלים אחריך ואתה עוף ויגע ולא ירא אלקים

That he happened upon you on the way, and he struck those of you who were hindermost, all the weaklings at your rear, when you were faint and exhausted, and did not fear G-d. (25:18)

We must endeavor to understand in what area Amalek stood out from among all of the other nations who were our enemies. Indeed, we had no friends – only those who paid lip service out of fear, but certainly not out of love or admiration. We were always tolerated, rarely respected, and hardly ever admired. This is quite possibly out of envy. We are Hashem’s chosen people who have, despite the greatest odds and untold persecution, survived and thrived, growing, contributing and not acting obsequiously. We have a noble heritage and an exalted destiny. We do not bow to anyone…

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לא תתעב אדמי כי אחיך הוא לא תתעב מצרי כי גר היית בארצו... דור שלישי יבא להם בקהל ד'

You shall not reject an Edomi, for he is your brother; you shall not reject an Egyptian, for you were a sojourner in his land… the third generation may enter the congregation of Hashem. (23:8,9)

Understandably, we would not want to accept the children of a convert from those nations who have persecuted us. The Torah’s line of thinking is different than ours. Hashem has enjoined us to take a positive view of the descendants of these nations. Edom is “family,” and Egypt provided food and lodging for Yaakov Avinu and his family. What happened later is a different story. It does not absolve us of the obligation to show gratitude. Nonetheless, it takes three generations after conversion for their base nature to be expunged. The Sefer HaChinuch explains the shoresh, root, of this mitzvah….

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

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 Beor. (23:4,5)

Even if an Amoni or Moavi converts to Judaism, he/she is still forever barred from marrying a Jewish woman. Our bloodlines may not become tainted by the males of these two nations. The Torah states two reasons, both of which, on the surface, seem not to fit the punishment. They did not greet us with bread and water when we traveled through the wilderness and came close to their land. While this may manifest a lack of mentchlichkeit, it is only a moral flaw. Should a deficiency in moral stature demand such punishment? Furthermore, we believe that, over time, if…

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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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