5 Minute Torah – Ki Teitzi

5 Minute Torah

Ki Teitzi (“When You Go Out”)
Deuteronomy 21:10 – 25:19

“When you build a new house, make a parapet around your roof so that you may not bring the guilt of bloodshed on your house if someone falls from the roof.” (Deut 22:8, NIV)

Although this passage is very clear, and the “peshat,” or face-value understanding of this verse is to literally build a fence around the roof of a new house to protect anyone that may be on your roof in order that they do not accidentally fall from it. However, we can derive from it a greater point. This is called “derash,” or “searching.” The Apostle Paul does this frequently (as well as the Master). One example that comes to mind is his reference not to “muzzle the ox.” This is a commandment from this week’s parashah as well (Deuteronomy 25:9). In the plain sense it is talking about allowing the beast of burden to enjoy the rewards of his labor during the threshing of the grain. Paul, in his rabbinic style of teaching, applies a derash to this in relating it to the blessings of one laboring in the work of the Kingdom (1 Corinthians 9:9; 1 Timothy 5:18).

Our passage begs for a derash as well. At least two principles can be drawn from this passage. They are as follows:

1) We are responsible for one another, even though the other person may be negligent in their actions. Even though their actions only appear to hurt themselves, the sages liken it to three men on a boat. One of the men begins to drill a hole beneath his seat. The other two begin crying out for him to explain his actions. The man stops drilling and replies, “What does it concern YOU if I drill beneath MY seat?” So it is with life. We are responsible to each other, and this is the premise for these emails. I want to encourage each of you to walk humbly before our Creator and listen to His voice every moment of every day. These are extreme times, and we must be living extreme lives.

2) Make a fence around Torah (Pirkei Avot 1:1). Just as we need to make fences around a house that we build, we must also build fences around Torah. What does this mean? It means that we don’t flirt with disaster. If Torah says “don’t work on the Sabbath,” we don’t search for loopholes to justify our activities. If the Torah says “don’t commit adultery,” we do exactly as our Master has instructed us and not let our eyes and our hearts wonder into this area of deceptiveness (Matthew 5:27-30). Remember the adage — “If in doubt, cast it out.” Yeshua said it’s better to suffer the pain of denying our flesh in this age, than to suffer the consequences in the age to come. Our fences may be different, but as long as they are not in opposition to Torah, they will keep us safe from our own foolishness.

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