Musings of an Orthodox Jew

Thoughts on Torah and the Jewish world today.

Parshas Ki Teitze 5770: Actions and consequences

Parsha Question:
Where how does this weeks Parsha teach that actions have consequences- how a bad decision at one point can have detrimental effects years later?

Parsha Ki teitze Devarim (Deuteronomy) 21:10-25:19


As Gabi says in his comment- the answer to this is in the start of the Parsha- the woman taken captive in war and married against her will. I have previously blogged about this aspect of the parsha (here) so I will not comment on the specifics as those interested can just read it there. Also there, I discussed the Torah sometimes trying to make the best of a bad situation- allowing something not desirable in order to prevent greater abuses.

There is another aspect to this- the fact that the Torah is stating the ends do not justify the means. We are all familiar with people making excuses for bad behaviour by stating that “I did X because the result was that Y would happen- and look at how fantastic Y is!” The Torah is stating the opposite here. It is showing that when the means are wrong- the end result will be wrong.

Lets look at this soldier- he goes to war and, in the aftermath, sees a woman whose family is dead, who has no protection or means to support herself, and his primary motivation is to help her. He reasons to himself “If I take her as a wife, I can protect her and provide for her. surely this is a better fate than just leaving her at the mercy of others?” He finds good reasons to justify his actions, though it is just that a justification. In the end, whether he is honest with himself and does it because he admits it is out of desire, or because he finds reasons to justify his action, the end result will be the same.

However, the rest of the process would seem to show the difference between the one who does it, knowing it is because he desires her, and the one who justifies his actions through finding a way to make it seem good. By making the woman unattractive, by making it that she is not beautiful, the one who did it out of desire is most likely to be able to fight off the urge to take her as a wife and send her away. On the other hand, the one who rationalised his desire into something greater is not going to be able to let go so easily. No longer would sending her away be a positive act, one in which he admits to defeating his baser nature; instead, it becomes a negative action, he cannot send her away because that would be acting against his expressed rationalisation that this is form mercy and a good deed! Since people want to be good, since they want to appear to be righteous, one who has rationalised negative behaviour to themselves will find it much harder to let go of that negative behaviour and to be able to repent it.

This persons justifying of the negative by positive motives is what ultimately leads to the corruption of this son. for every negative, for every time that the child should have been disciplined and taught better, there is a rationalisation. Thus the child grows up with a mother embittered by being taken away from her family and forced to marry one of those responsible for killing her loved ones, and a father who fails to discipline him. In this environment the child becomes the ben soreh u’moreh.

August 16, 2010 Posted by | Parshah, Torah, Weekly Question/Issue | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment