Parashat Ki Teitzei – 5783

August 22, 2023

Rabbi Katy Allen ('05)

I recently visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and managed to have timed my visit to be able to view the exhibit “Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina”. It was beautiful, and it was painful. Beautiful, because the pottery was subtly exquisite. Painful, because each piece was made by an enslaved human being, subjected to horrors we cannot begin to imagine. In the South in the mid-1800s, the phrase “buy local” had a whole different connotation. “Buy local” meant support the slave industry with your economic decisions. Don’t buy from the North – goods made by free people. The paradoxical mix of beauty and pain found in the Old Edgefield pottery is not so uncommon. We find it frequently in the Torah. The beauty is in the fact that the words are part of our ancient and sacred tradition. The pain is in...

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Parashat Ki Teitzei – 5782

September 9, 2022

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah The Value Of Life A D’var Torah for Parashat Ki Teitzei By Rabbi Jill Hackell (’13) This week’s parashah, Ki Teitzei, is filled with a wide variety of mitzvot. It contains, perhaps, the most laws of any other parashah in the Torah. I’d like to focus on two of them. The first is as follows: “If you see your fellow’s ox or sheep gone astray, do not ignore it; you must take it back to your fellow. If your fellow does not live near you or you do not know who he is, you shall bring it home and it shall remain with you until your fellow claims it; then you shall return it to him. You shall do the same with his donkey; you shall do the same with his garment; and so too shall you do with anything that your fellow loses, and you find it; you must not...

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Parashat Ki Teitzei 5781

August 20, 2021

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashat Ki Teitzei By Rabbi Doug Alpert (’12) Entering the month of Elul – a time for great introspection and personal reflection leading up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I, and at the risk of being presumptuous, we, are experiencing a time of unprecedented turmoil. In my own congregation the resurgence of the COVID 19 pandemic via the Delta variant has been an emotional setback as we have been so looking forward to being back in physical space together. Wearing masks and putting hugging on the back burner leaves us detached from our need for connecting in community. Polarization and animosity are pervasive surrounding the proper response to the pandemic. This notwithstanding that in our Jewish world Pikuah Nefesh – sanctity of human life – should dictate the seemingly obvious response that we take every measure possible to...

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Parashat Ki Teitzei 5780

August 28, 2020

A D’var Torah for Parashat Ki Teitzei By Rabbi Matthew Goldstone The topics of racism and racial justice have been on many of our minds over the past several months. One particular issue that I have been thinking about is that while many of us might decry racism, we may nevertheless unwittingly be participants in perpetuating policies and practices that reinforce racial inequality. We are not alone in this, nor is it a purely modern phenomenon. Already in the Torah we find judgmental assumptions based upon ancestry rather than individuality. Our parasha this week delineates several categories of people who are not permitted to enter into the congregation of the Israelites, including the Ammonites and the Moabites. Anyone belonging to these groups is automatically labelled as unacceptable because their ancestors “did not meet you with food and water on your journey after you left Egypt and because they hired Balaam...

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Parashat Ki Tetzei 5779

September 13, 2019

A D’var Torah for Parashat Ki Tetzei By Rabbi Bruce Alpert (’11) As a rabbinical student, I attended a lecture taught by a sofer – a scribe – who demonstrated for us some of the tools he used in creating a Torah scroll. Among them was a sheet of parchment covered with ink blotches. The scribe showed us how, before beginning to work on the scroll, he would inscribe the name Amalek on this sheet and then blot it out. Thus did he honor (if not exactly fulfill) the commandments in this week’s Torah portion to both remember Amalek and erase the memory of him (Deuteronomy 25:17-19). This exercise strikes me as a clever if incomplete way of dealing with apparently contradictory commandments. There are other places in Deuteronomy where we are asked to reconcile commandments or statements that are at odds with each other. Notably, two weeks ago, in Parashat Re’eh, we read first...

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