Ki Teitzei starts out with a commandment:  Don’t despise an Edomite, because he is your brother. (According to the Bible, Edomites were descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother.)  God also tells the Israelites not to despise the Egyptians, and gives as a reason that they had lived in that land. (Could it also be that the kingdom of Egypt was far more powerful than Israel?)  But it takes three generations for an Edomite or an Egyptian to be accepted into the Israelite people.

God pays attention to the details.  His next commandment is that armies in the field should build latrines – a good sanitary measure against disease, we now know.

God moves on.  God tells the Israelites not to charge interest on loans to other Israelites.  They can, however, charge interest on loans to foreigners. 

Further on, it says on the subject that you must not take a person’s means of making a living, for example, a millstone.  Also, if a person promises his cloak as a pledge for a loan, you are to give it back each night so that the person can use it as a blanket.  You’re not to go inside that person’s home, either, to grab that person’s pledge.

Then there’s a passage that the United States ignored in the years leading up to the Civil War:  Don’t give back a slave who ran away to that person’s “owner.”  Don’t maltreat such people either, but let them stay within your gates, where they choose.

Next, God takes up vows.  If you don’t make a vow about something, then you’re committed to following it out.  But if you do, it’s a sin not to do what you vowed to do.

Here’s a nice commandment.  You can eat grapes from a neighbor’s vineyard, or take wheat from his or her field, as long as you don’t gather it into a basket or vessel.  In other words: if you’re hungry, eat.  But don’t treat your neighbor’s crops as a grocery store.  If you do steal, you’re to be put to death.  That includes stealing slaves.

A man can’t remarry someone he divorces who had married someone else and gotten divorced.

Newlyweds are specifically free from serving in the army for a year after their wedding, so the man can bring happiness to his new wife.

Food for thought:

How many of the commandments given in this parsha apply today?  Why or why not?

Newlyweds were exempt from army service.
Extra credit: Can you name the couple in this picture?