Leah Houseman, writing as Sophia Bar-Lev writes:
as we continue to make our way through the Hebrew month of Elul which is dedicated to repentance in order to prepare our hearts for the approaching Festivals of the Lord (Lev. 23), this is the time to take an honest look at our personal acceptance of responsibility.
A big difficulty for a lot of persons is that they never want to take up the blame for something that went wrong. Most people prefer to give others the fault. When they themselves did something wrong they are fast to find somebody else to blame, even when they can put it on an imaginary figure like a devil.
These days of reconciliation and looking at the transition of the old into the new year it is time to look into our own heart. When we are prone to blaming others for our problems, we should reconsider and wonder if it is not high time to change our attitude.
Our world is still at war. Also in the Torah readings for this week the Jews find wars, at the beginning and the end. In the Weekly Torah Commentary — Ki Tetzei September 5, 2014 the author wants us to look at the cause-and-effect relationship, something which is too often overlooked.
From the writings we can get that the clear absence of unity between parents breeds rebellious children. today we do find lots of families with problems between partners and children. Many adults forget how their actions, their way of treating others, affects their children.
how parents live affects their children far more than what they say.
How many times we do see today that partners are not honest to each other and betray the people around them? In how many cases negativity becomes a bigger facto in the family life than positivity. Parents saying to their children they are not doing well enough. Family-members shouting at each other. Are the parents willing to remember the stupid things they did themselves when they were children? Are they willing to accept that their children learn by their mistakes?
In a household each member should help each other to make it work. Together they should aim to go united on the path to greatness by choosing to learn the lessons of every experience we have in life.
The lesson for all of us is unavoidable: Human beings – children and adults -are too easily tempted to blame others for their own shortcomings. The Torah sets a higher standard, one consistent with how we were created.
Every human being has Free Will; regardless of what has happened to you, what parents you had, what hurts you’ve experienced, what hardships you’ve endured, You – and only You – have the responsibility for your decisions. It is ‘we’ not ‘them’ who have the ability and the power to choose whether we will wallow in negativity and in the past; or will we have the wisdom to learn from every life experience, using each one as a stepping stone to greatness. Cycles of abuse and pain can and must be broken. Amon and Moav, as well as Lot, has so many opportunities to learn from their experiences and become great men. It was for choosing to focus on their own feelings of disenfranchisement, their experiences of cruelty and selfishness, their own anger and sense of fatalistic doom, that they were forever barred from the congregation of Israel.
Please read the exhortation by Sophia Bar-Lev: Weekly Torah Commentary — Ki Tetzei September 5, 2014
Find also to read:
- Running away from the past
- Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #15 Exposition before the Creator
- Being Religious and Spiritual 7 Transcendence to become one
- The Existence of Evil
- Satan the evil within
- What is life?
- Elul Observances
- Never making mistakes because never doing anything
- We all have to have dreams
- Youngster all over the world with the same dream
- 30 things to start doing for yourself – #6 is vital.
- Not holding back and getting out of darkness
- It is a free will choice
- Judaism Does Not Allow Us to Hate (algemeiner.com)
Ki Tetzei contains more laws than any other parsha in the Torah, and it is possible to be overwhelmed by this embarrass de richesse of detail. One verse, however, stands out by its sheer counter-intuitiveness:
Do not despise an Edomite, because he is your brother.
Do not despise the Egyptian, because you were a stranger in his land. (Deut. 23: 8 )
These are very unexpected commands. Understanding them will teach us an important lesson about leadership.
If we think less of a person because of the colour of his or her skin, we are repeating the sin of Aaron and Miriam – “Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman” (Num. 12: 1).
Generous Tit-for-Tat says, don’t always do to him what he does to you or you may find yourself locked into a mutually destructive cycle of retaliation. Every so often ignore (i.e. forgive) your opponent’s last harmful move. That, roughly speaking, is what the sages meant when they said that God originally created the world under the attribute of strict justice but saw that it could not survive. Therefore He built into it the principle of compassion.
Do not forget the past but do not be held captive by it. Be willing to fight your enemies but never allow yourself to be defined by them or become like them. Learn to love and forgive. Acknowledge the evil men do, but stay focused on the good that is in our power to do. Only thus do we raise the moral sights of humankind and help redeem the world we share.
- Ki Tetzei (thejc.com)
The term mamzer has no precise English equivalent. Hertz in his translation of the Chumash renders it “bastard”, but clarifies in his commentary that this “does not mean a child born out of wedlock, but the child of an adulterous or an incestuous marriage”.The moral difficulty raised by this law is obvious. Why is the child punished with severely restricted marriage opportunities because of the sins of the parents? Doesn’t this sidrah itself say further on that “Parents shall not be put to death for children, neither shall children be put to death for parents; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin”(24:16)?
- Ki Tetzei (anitasilvert.wordpress.com)
I guess before we can fully forgive or be forgiven, we need to engage with the memory of what’s happened, and sometimes it takes time for that to dissipate. Maybe that’s also why we start thinking about forgiveness a full month before Rosh Hashanah; to give ourselves and even God time to work on the process, and it’s not clear if the process begins with Forgiveness, Remembering or Forgetting. This year, I’m still in the remembering stage.
- Ki Tetzei (thejc.com)
One example of how the laws of war differ from peace time concerns the protection of enemy civilians. Are they protected by the familiar category of pikuach nefesh — the injunction to save life at nearly all costs. Following the approach of the verse above that at wartime many rules are suspended, Rav Yosef Babad of Tarnopol (1800-74) argues in his iconic work, Minchat Chinuch, that there can be no sense in applying pikuach nefesh during a war. On the contrary wars are won by minimising the value of life.
- Ki-Seitzei: DIY Judaism (5tjt.com)
We must take precautions. Although we believe in miracles, we are not permitted to rely upon them. There is a Yiddish proverb that “the man destined to drown will drown even in a glass of water.” But that doesn’t mean that you have to be the one to put his head under the hose. In short, we believe in the concept of bashert but we mustn’t live by it. Otherwise, why go to work? We say in the bentching (Grace after Meals) that G‑d is the feeder and provider for all. So if G‑d will support us, why must I schlep off to work?
Clearly, this is not the Jewish attitude. That’s why it is a commandment of the Torah to safeguard our health. Likewise, we are not to live dangerously by leaving roofs unenclosed or swimming pools unfenced or our doors unlocked. As they say, “Trust in G‑d, but lock your car.”
- Ki Tetzei: Doing Jewish (anitasilvert.wordpress.com)
We’re heading into a New Year. How will you connect your inside spirituality to your outside…connect your Jewish feelings to your Jewish actions? It isn’t necessarily about praying or changing your kitchen (although…maybe that’s what your spirituality learning leads you). But maybe you eat a little differently, and know why. Maybe you take moments to see the good things in your life, and acknowledge them); maybe you find out about a Jewish way of acknowledging those good things (that’s called blessings). Jewish life is a verb. How will you Jew?