“And it will be if you did not desire her . . .” (Devarim/Deuteronomy 21:14). Again this week small details yield deeper meaning. The Torah uses the past tense phrase “did not” to describe an event happening in the future. It seems the verse should read, “do not (or will not) want her,” no?
The parsha for this Sabbath is Ki Seitzei. It contains more mitzvos (74) than any other parsha including how to handle a beautiful female POW, the right of the first-born to an inheritance, how a wayward and rebellious son is handled, our concern for another’s property, men not wearing women’s clothing and vice versa (Ooops for Jack Lemmon,) and sending away the mother bird before gathering her eggs.making
Then it covers making tzitzis for a four cornered garment, how a libeler of a woman is to be treated, the penalties for adultery and rape, several rules about marriage and divorce, how the Israelites were to keep their camp tahor, laws concerning workers’ rights, kidnapping, lending and punishments, the penalty for embarrassing someone, the admonition to have honest weights and measures and finally the strange commandment not to forget to wipe out the memory of Amalek.
In his compilation, Maayanah Shel Torah, Rabbi Alexander Zusia Friedman explains Hebrew has two words for a person’s attraction to another: chaisek and chofaitz. The former is used when passion and lust are the driving factors. The latter, when you make a rational decision that something is good for you.
When dealing with a beautiful captive, in the above verse the Torah refers to her captor’s desire as lo chafatah, meaning rationally he did not want her. As you might imagine, after fulfilling her term of mourning, her captor’s ardor likely decreased or ceased altogether. Indeed this is one of the reasons for his having to wait. Had he been more self-disciplined from the start he would have realized his attraction was the aftermath of the lust of battle.
It is important to develop the ability to distinguish between what you desire and what you want. How often have you seen a friend marry someone purely because of physical attraction only to find the spouses end up hating each other because they have nothing substantial on which to base their relationship?
The same principle applies to all major decisions including buying a car or a house. The sporty little two-seat convertible may stir your passion but can you afford the insurance and maintenance and will it transport your family of four?
Better to make decisions based on rational, well thought out wants. With respect to relationships, invest the emotion in them that will ignite passion.
Question – When do you think it is okay to be driven by lust?
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