Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Ki Seitzei – Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19
Undoubtedly many times you’ve faced a problem without the resources necessary to surmount it. Such frustration hinders productive action and seemingly make it hard to be creative. Parshas Ki Seitzei provides the solution:
“When you build a new house, you will make a guardrail for your roof, so that you will not cause blood [to be spilled] in your house, that the one who falls should fall from it (the roof).” (Deuteronomy/Devarim 22:8)
This Sabbath’s parsha contains more mitzvahs (usually translated commandments) than any other, 74 in all. In it, we learn about how to handle a beautiful female POW, the right of primogeniture, and how a wayward and rebellious son is handled. Next, it covers our concern for another’s property, men not wearing women’s clothing and vice versa (Ooops for Uncle Miltie), sending away the mother bird before gathering her eggs, and making tzitzis (fringes) for a four-cornered garment.
Then it details how a libeler of a woman is to be treated, the penalties for adultery and rape, and several rules about marriage and divorce. It wraps up with how the Israelites were to keep their camp pure, 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 to remember to wipe out the memory of Amalek.
Why Build a Fence?
Among such weighty subjects as war, child rearing, proper sensitivity for living creatures, and felonious crimes, the above rule to build a fence around your roof seems misplaced. While most houses no longer have widow’s walks, naturally you’ll be careful to guard against accidents in your home.
Could that really be what G-d wants?
Dwellings are not just physical places, there are spiritual ones too. You are a “house” in which a spark of the Creator dwells. Blood is not just the liquid that flows through your body bringing nutrients to its cells. The dietary laws show that blood is the essence of life. That is why it should not be eaten.
So just as you need to build physical fences for safety’s sake, to prevent spilling blood, you need to set emotional and spiritual boundaries to protect yourself from negative forces that can kill your mind and spirit. So the mitzvah to build fences in all realms has a protective function.
Fences = Be Creative
From the positive side, putting constraints on your life forces you to be more creative. Being able to throw money or other resources at a challenge does not necessarily lead to a better result. The inability to solve problems without using outside means requires you to invest more of your intellect and spirit. You’ll have to grow in order to surmount the trial you face.
I’m always amazed at how creative my daughter can be in making the things she wants to play with, such as a doctors kit crafted from cardboard, wood, and plastic she scavenges from containers and other broken toys.
By setting fences, you push yourself to grow to consume life’s challenges thereby increasing your resiliency without expending greater resources. Your life becomes more from less.
How have constraints forces you to be more creative?
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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.
What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!