There is just so much in this parashah. Too much to do in a single drash. Suffice it to say that this parashah is comprised of rules about how to treat each other. It talks of relations between men and women, whether slave, captured enemy, or spouse. It talks about how to treat the property of others , protecting them from fraud and dangerous situations. God commands us to take care of orphans and widows, who is allowed to entry the assembly of God, who is not, which surrounding peoples to detest, and which not to detest. It covers rules for collateral on loans, and so much more. It is, in essence, the penal, tort, and civil laws we are to live by.
What I find interesting is the fact that the next parashah, Ki Tavo (When You Come) and this one remind me of the V’ahavta line (Deut 6:7) that goes, “Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away,…” The V’ahavta is traditionally recited right after the Shema, and tells us how to treat God’s commandments. This one line, always a little different, essentially covers when you are going out in the world, and when you are in your house. In other words, when you come in and when you go out. Ki Tetze and Ki Tavo, going out and coming in. Ki Tetze rules are about treating each other and the Ki Tavo rules are about following the mitzvot of God. To me, following God’s mitzvot (laws/rules/regulations) is really about how we treat Him. Isn’t it? If we follow His commandments we are showing more than obedience, we are respecting and trustfully worshiping Him. It’s how we are treating God. When we treat what He tells us with respect, we are treating Him with respect. When we treat His words with disdain, well…you get the point.
So, here we have two parashat, one about going out and one about coming in, and each one dealing more specifically with how we are treat each other and how we are to treat God, but clearly (to me, at least) a reminder of the V’ahavta.
What is also interesting is that the order is reversed from almost every other reference to treating God and each other- usually God is first. Most of the times in the Torah when we are told how to worship, as I recall it is to God first, then to each other. Here, though, with these parashat the order is reversed, and we are told about treating each other then about how we treat God, i.e., by following His commandments.
Why is the order reversed? Actually, it isn’t. Interpreting the Torah requires Circles of Context (look under the Messianic 101 category for Torah Interpretation). Using that, when we look at the entire book, we see that the first 13 chapters are about how we are to treat God, from Chapter 1 through Chapter 13. Starting in Chapter 14 and concluding with Ki Tetze (Chapter 25) we are told how to treat each other. Ki Tavo begins with Chapter 26 and is a conclusion to not just this section of the book, but to the Torah, itself. It is the ultimate reminder of the goodness God has in store for us and the curses we will suffer if we reject Him. The final chapters are about Moshe, the song he gives to help us remember the main lessons of the Torah and a final blessing Moshe makes upon the children of Israel before he dies. The order remains God first, then us; it is just “stretched out” a little more in this book.
Even though this parashah reads more like the laws about torts, custody and ownership, marital relations and social welfare programs, the message I think we should take away is that in all the things we do, regarding worship, regarding work, regarding relationships, all things we do should be based upon what God wants us to do. It always comes down to the teachings of Yeshua when He said the two most important commandments are to love God, and love each other. That’s the order, and if we do the first we will almost have to do the second. I don’t believe anyone can truly love the Lord and treat people badly. We are all His children, and to love God means to love His children. To paraphrase another thing Yeshua taught us (actually, I think it was more of a warning), He sees the way we treat each other as no different than how we treat Him. If we are kind and respectful to each other, than He sees that as being kind and respectful to Him. Think about that next time you want to yell at someone, engage in gossip, or get an extra dollar in your change from the cashier. What would you do if that other person was Yeshua?
Think about that as you come in and as you go out.