Ki Teitzei

Posted on August 20th, 2018

Deuteronomy 21:10–25:19 

Rabbi Bernie Fox for OU

Sending Away the Mother Bird

“And it will be that on the day that he wills his property to his sons, he may not give preference to the son of his beloved wife over the firstborn son of his unloved wife.” (Devarim 21:16)

This pasuk discusses the rights of a firstborn son. This son inherits a double portion of his father’s property. In other words, when the father’s estate is divided, the firstborn son receives a portion that is double the value of the portions received by the other sons. A simple illustration will clarify this law. A man dies. Four sons survive him. His estate is divided into five portions. The firstborn son receives two of the portions – two fifths of the estate. Each of the other sons receives one fifth of the estate.

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Posted on August 13th, 2018

DEUTERONOMY 16:18–21:9 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks 


The Consent of the Governed

The contribution of Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, to political thought is fundamental, but not well known. In this study I want to look at the institution of monarchy. What does it tell us about the nature of government as the Torah understands it?

The command relating to a king opens with these words:


“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,” be sure to appoint over you the king the Lord your God chooses…”(Deut 17:14-15).

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Re'eh - Rosh Chodesh Elul

Posted on August 6th, 2018

DEUTERONOMY 11:26–16:17 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

The Limits of Grief

“You are children of the Lord your God. Do not cut yourselves or shave the front of your heads for the dead, for you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be His treasured possession” (Deut. 14:1-2).

These words have had a considerable history within Judaism. The first inspired the famous statement of Rabbi Akiva: “Beloved is man because he was created in the image [of God]. Beloved are Israel for they are called children of the All-present” (Avot 3:14). The phrase, “Do not cut yourselves”, was imaginatively applied by the sages to divisions within the community (Yevamot 14a). A single town should not have two or more religious courts giving different rulings.

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Posted on July 30th, 2018

DEUTERONOMY 7:12–11:25 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks 

Why Civilisations Fail 

What is the real challenge of maintaining a free society? In parshat Eikev, Moses springs his great surprise. Here are his words:

Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God… Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery… You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”… If you ever forget the Lord your God… I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. (Deut. 8:11-19)

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Va’et-chanan - Shabbat Nachamu

Posted on July 23rd, 2018

Deuteronomy 3:23–7:11 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks 

Philosophy or Prophecy? 


What was the first commandment? On this there are two fascinating disagreements in Judaism. One was between Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) and the author of the Halakhot Gedolot, written in the period of the Gaonim, probably by R. Shimon Kayyara (eighth century), that for the first time enumerated in a systematic way the 613 commands. The other was between Maimonides and the poet and thinker Judah Halevi (c. 1080-c.1145). These were two different arguments, and they touched, as we will see, on fundamentals of faith.

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