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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Yonah Burr

Ki Seitzei: The Attractive Captive

פרשת כי תצא

כי תצא למלחמה על איביך ונתנו ד' אלקיך בידך ושבית שביו. וראית בשביה אשת יפת תאר וחשקת בה ולקחת לך לאשה. והבאתה אל תוך ביתך וגלחה את ראשה ועשתה את צפרניה. והסירה את שמלת שביה מעליה וישבה בביתך ובכתה את אביה ואת אמה ירח ימים ואחר כן תבוא אליה ובעלתה והיתה לך לאשה. והיה אם לא חפצת בה ושלחתה לנפשה.

When you go to war against your enemies, and Hashem will deliver him into your hand, and you will take captives. And if you shall see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire her, and take her for a wife; you shall bring her into your house, shave her head and allow her nails to grow long, remove her adornments, and allow her to mourn her parents for a month. Only then will she be permitted to you, as a wife. And it shall be, that if you no longer want her, you shall send her on her way.

On a simple level, this extraordinary passage create an exception to a rule. The Torah, recognizing the frailty of the soldier during the time of war, creates a procedure that allows him to marry one of the non-Jewish captives. Our Sages explain that this exceptional scenario is necessary because the alternative would be worse. If the Torah doesn’t provide a permitted way to marry her, the soldier might marry her anyway in a forbidden way.

Clearly, this was something to avoid. We can only imagine the shame and stigma attached to the one who actually availed himself of this dispensation!

The Yalkut makes a shockingly cryptic statement regarding our Parsha. It says that if you follow the procedure of this Parsha, Hashem will deliver him into your hand -- and if not, not!

What is the Yalkut refering to? First of all, if we are taking captives, it would seem that Hashem has already delivered the enemy into our hands. Additionally, what does the medrash mean when it says “Hashem will deliver him into your hand”? Who is the "him"?

The Klei Yakar explains that this parsha is actually giving us advice how to control our own yetzer hara. If we ever find ourselves engaged in a war, feel tempted to sin, and are about to succumb, we should contemplate the transitory and temporary nature of the pleasure. Shave its head. See beneath the glitz, and allow the pleasure to "mourn". Contemplate that we are only here for a limited time and remember our purpose in this world. Then, you will see that you will no longer want it, and you will be able to send it on its way...

Elul is given to us yearly as a gift, a time to reprioritize and contemplate our purpose. The Days of Awe are an opportunity to grow, and to reach our potential.

Have a wonderful Shabbos!!

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