Parashat Ki Tetzei


Parashat Ki Tetzei

Marriage has many spiritual components. Therefore it is absolutely vital that one marries another that shares his faith. The New Testament is most clear that a believer in Messiah Yeshua must marry someone who also believes. Paul says, “Do not be unequally united with unbelievers…” 2Cor. 6:14. In this week’s Torah portion we see a hint of the same instruction. The passage opens up with men going out to war and wanting to marry one of the foreign women who were part of the spoils of battle. The context is that because the woman is foreign she does not worship the G-d of Israel and is therefore unfit for an Israelite to marry. It is interesting that HaShem does not say immediately, “Don’t do this.”  Some have said that this is because in the heat of passion and desire people do not listen to the instruction of others, even the commandments of G-d. So what does HaShem say, He offers a process by which the woman can become permissible to the Israelite man.

The first question that needs to be asked is, why does this man want to marry this foreign woman anyway? Once again the context gives the reader some viable information. Notice that the text says, “And you will see among the captivity a woman who is beautiful in appearance.” (Deut. 21:11). It is obvious that we are not talking about love here, but lust. He wants her because she is beautiful. Scholars point out that this idea of “beautiful” may simply refer to the fact that foreign women were very different from Jewish women. How so? In regard to modesty. When the victorious army use to come into villages the foreign women use to dress in a most provocative manner hoping to seduce the soldiers with the purpose of not being killed. The Israelite soldiers were of course susceptible to seeing these women who were so different than what they were use to and dressed in an alluring manner and think they were in love.

G-d simply instructing Moses to tell these men, “No they are forbidden” probably would not have had much of an effect on these men. So HaShem offers a method by which one can in fact marry such a woman. The method involves several things which are designed to bring the man to his senses and / or cause the woman to adapt to the practices and hopefully the faith of the Jewish people. The first thing the text says is that there must be a waiting period of a full month. Time does have a way of causing one to see things differently. The man probably saw this woman so different and inviting, but after being with her for a full month, his perspective may change. Especially when during this time she has to do the following. First she must remove that beautiful dress and mourn for her parents. Scholars point out that mourning was really more than for her family, but actually for her old way of life. She was now expected to live like a Jewish woman. Because it was a full month of mourning she was instructed to shave off that beautiful hair and “do her nails”

What exactly this phrase “do her nails” mean is debatable. Rashi says, “She lets her nails grow so that she becomes uncomely to him”. What is clear is that the motivation that he had for wanting to marry her will depart. At the end of the thirty days she does become permissible to him, but notice the emphasis is on verse 14,

“But it shall be that if you do not want to marry her…” The emphasis on this verse is to inform the reader that this is in fact what is going to happen more often than not.  However if he still wants to marry her, hopefully that in the month which has elapsed she has adapted to Jewish religion and its way of life. In fact, for a marriage to take place under Jewish law, this woman will have to affirm her faith in the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Now that we have the revelation of the New Covenant both the man and the woman must confess their faith in Yeshua as their Messiah. A couple that is heading different directions spiritually will probably end up at the same location eventually- the lawyer’s office.

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