Parshat Ki Teitzei Summary

Parshat Ki Teitzei is the 6th parsha in Sefer Devarim (also known as Deuteronomy).

This parsha is verses Deuteronomy 21:10 – 25:19, or a total of 110 verses.

Here is a brief summary for each aliyah.

Aliyah 1: Deuteronomy 21:10 – 21:21, 12 verses

This first reading deals with 3 distinct topics.

1. The Beautiful Captive

At times the Jewish army will go out to war. It may happen that they capture a “beautiful” woman. One of the soldiers may take her for the purpose of eventually marrying her.

First she must be given one month to mourn for her parents. During this month she must shave her hair but not trim her nails.

If after the one month the Jew still wants to marry her, he may. If he no longer desires her, then he must send her away. But he may not sell her as a slave.

2. The Two Wives

A man with two wives may perhaps favor one wife (the “beloved”) more than the other (the “hated”).

What if the “hated” wive bears him a firstborn son? Even though that son is from the “hated” wife, he still gets the double inheritance due to being firstborn.

3. The Rebellious Son

There will be times when a son does not obey his parents. If his rebellion fulfills certain criteria, then the parents may bring him to the court.

If the court accepts that the son is “rebellious,” then they execute him.

Though these verses do not make it clear, the criteria to be considered “rebellious” are very specific and almost impossible to fulfill. In fact, the Gemara (Sanhedrin 71a) states that there never was a rebellious son who was executed. However, we may still learn valuable lessons about human nature and raising children from this passage.

Are They Distinct?

I wrote above that these are 3 distinct passages. However, Rashi commenting on verse 21:11 suggests that the passages are related. He says there is a natural progression in these passages with one event leading to the next.

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Aliyah 2: Deuteronomy 21:22 – 22:7, 9 verses

If a man is executed by a Jewish court, then his body is displayed to the public and suspended on a tree or a pole. However, the body must not be left like that overnight, but rather taken down and buried.

A person who finds a lost object should put it safe until the owner claims it.

You must help a person whose animal needs help.

Neither men nor women may wear garments that are typically worn only by the other sex.

You may take eggs from a nest only after sending away the mother bird.

Aliyah 3: Deuteronomy 22:8 – 23:7, 29 verses

A roof (or other dangerous setting) must have a protective fence around it.

We are not permitted to sow fields with a mixture of seeds.

It is not permitted to plow with animals of different species yoked together.

It is not permitted to wear a garment made of a mixture of wool and linen.

A 4-cornered garment requires special threads (in Hebrew, tzitit) on the four corners.

Various Laws about Marriage

Most of the rest of the verses in this reading touch on the sanctity of marriage.

A man may not spread false stories that the woman he married was not a virgin.

If it turns out she was not a virgin, then the court of the city should punish her.

If a man commits adultery with a married woman, then both of them should be executed.

If a man rapes a betrothed virgin in the city, then both of them should be put to death.

If a man rapes a betrothed virgin in the country, then only the man should be put to death.

If a man rapes a virgin who is not betrothed, then he must marry her and may never divorce her. The Gemara (Ketubot 39b) makes it clear that the woman must agree to the marriage.

A man may not marry his stepmother.

A man with damaged sex organs may not marry.

A mamzer (male or female) may only marry certain people. (In popular usage, a mamzer is a person born out of wedlock. However, it is actually a person born to parents who were not permitted to marry under Jewish law.)

A male Ammonite or Moabite who convert may not marry a woman born to Jewish parents.

Aliyah 4: Deuteronomy 23:8 – 23:24, 17 verses

When the Jewish army goes out to war, it must ensure that the army camp remains pure.

A slave who has escaped from a non-Jew must not be returned to his former owner.

There should not be male or female prostitutes among the Jewish people.

We may not charge Jews interest. Non-Jews may be charged interest.

If a person vows to do something (such as bringing an offering or giving charity), then he should not delay doing it.

Aliyah 5: Deuteronomy 23:25 – 24:4, 6 verses

A person harvesting crops may eat from those crops. However, he may not set any aside to take home.

A man may divorce his wife by giving her a bill of divorce (in Hebrew, a “get”).

A divorced woman may marry another man. It could happen that the second husband will die or also divorce her. In such a case, she may not remarry her first husband.

Aliyah 6: Deuteronomy 24:5 – 24:13, 9 verses

A man who marries a wife is responsible to make her happy. He is exempt from serving in the army for one year.

A person who lends money may require the borrower to give an object as security for the loan. However, objects that the borrower needs to support himself may not be taken as collateral.

The specific example in the verse is an upper or lower millstone may not be taken as collateral.

upper and lower millstones Parshat Ki Teitzei

A kidnapper is subject to the death penalty.

We must be careful to observe the rules concerning the affliction of tzara’at.

The lender who is taking a pledge from the borrower, must treat the borrower with respect.

Aliyah 7: Deuteronomy 24:14 – 25:19, 28 verses

A worker must be paid promptly at the agreed upon time.

Each person is responsible for his own transgressions. Therefore, fathers are not punished for what their sons do, nor are sons punished for what their fathers do.

When a farmer harvests the crops, a forgotten bundle must be left for the gleaners to claim. The gleaners must be allowed to glean from the olive trees and grape vines.

A court may punish a person with lashes. The most lashes that may be given for one transgression is 39.

An ox that is threshing grain must not be muzzled.

If a married man dies without children, then his brother should marry the widow. This is what is called “levirate marriage.”

The brother may decline to marry the widow.

It is not permitted to keep two sets of weights or measures, one accurate and one not accurate. This is true even if the owner only uses the accurate set.

We should always remember what the nation of Amalek did to the Jewish people when they left Egypt.

Haftarah Summary

Isaiah 54:1 – 10

This haftarah does not relate directly to the parsha. Rather it is one of the seven haftarahs of consolation that are read after Tisha B’Av. All of these haftarahs are taken from Isaiah.

At times God may hide Himself from the Jewish people, but it will never be permanent. He is our redeemer and will show eternal mercy to His people.

Further Reading

I’ve written more about tzara’at in Parshat Tazria and Metzora.

Amalek attacking the Jewish people is recorded in Parshat Beshalach.

A Note on the Translations
The translation of Bible verses is based on the Judaica Press Tanach.
The translation of Gemara is based on the Soncino Talmud.
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