15 Sep Rabbi Hillel Skolnik’s Torah Spark for Ki Teitzei 5776
This Shabbat we read from Parashat Ki Teitzei which continues, within the context of Moshe’s final speech to the Israelites, a series of miscellaneous laws that the Israelite people need to know before entering Canaan. The laws mentioned in this week’s parasha are almost exclusively about interpersonal relationships – marriage, divorce, crime and societal inflicted punishment, a wayward son, etc. In these situations, one Israelite is opposite another Israelite in both civil and criminal disputes. It might then be surprising to read the final three verses of this portion only to find the strongly worded imperative to blot out any memory of the Amalekites from the face of the earth. It seems that this dramatic shift from “Israelite vs. Israelite” to “All of Israel vs. Amalek” is meant to remind the Israelites and us that while disputes may arise amongst our people, at the end of the day we are a nation that must stand together in the face of our enemies. There is a time and a place to deal with our internal issues, but those matters must never change the fact that we continue to stand together as a united force in the face of those who would attempt to bring us harm.
Rabbi Hillel Skolnik