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Shabbat Parashat Ki Tavo 5781

Parashat Hashavua: The Right Order: Home, Vineyard, or Wife?

Harav Yosef Carmel

The list of those who return from the battlelines is found in Parashat Shoftim, and the same people come up in Parashat Ki Tavo. In the former, the nation went out to battle, and the following group of soldiers were told to go home: he who built a new home and did not occupy it, who planted a vineyard and did not get to eat from its fruit, and who betrothed a woman and did not marry her. Also, he who was afraid was to go home, so as not to harm the valor of the other soldiers (Devarim 20:1-9). The battle involved is one which the nation decides to undertake confidently.

The same “characters” appear in this week’s parasha, but in a foreboding manner. The betrothed man dies before marrying, the one who builds the house dies before occupying it, and the planter of the vineyard dies before eating from it. All of these occur because of the curses that the nation had coming to them due to their sins (ibid. 28:29-30).

The differences between the cases are clear. The order of the people is different, with, in the latter case, the one who betroths a woman going before those who accumulated wealth. There is also no mention of the one who is afraid. Bnei Yisrael do not choose their soldiers, as they are being pursued.

First, let us explain the order. The Tosefta (Sota 7:20) says that Parashat Shoftim teaches the proper order of things: first one worries about his livelihood by building a house and cultivating his field, and then he proceeds to marry. The matter of going back from battle is in increasing level of urgency. If someone who has just started to accumulate wealth can go back home, certainly one who is in the process of marriage should return.

What is the connection between these people and the one who is afraid? There is a difference of opinion on the matter. R. Akiva said that he is indeed simply afraid. R. Yossi Hagelili said that he is afraid because of his sins, and in fact the reason that the others return from battle is to not make the sinner stand out for his sins. According to R. Akiva, there is no connection between the two sets of returnees. According to R. Yossi, one serves the other. As Rav DZ Hoffman wrote, otherwise he would be embarrassed that they would say that he was not willing to give his life to protect his nation and country. We see, then, that specifically it is the G-d-fearers who are expected to be at the head of the fighting forces.

Let us suggest another explanation. Before going to battle, it is necessary to be sure that one is willing to risk his life for the Torah, the nation, and the Land, without condition. If he is concerned that he will be distracted by personal things that will make him fearful, then he must be released immediately. He will not have the privilege of taking part in the important mitzva of protecting the land and the nation. While serving in the army is an obligation, it is mainly a privilege. The matter of the fearful is not merely a list of people to be freed but explains why one who cannot concentrate on the task at hand will not be able to take part in the mitzva.

Let us hope that at the head of every military unit, we will have men of the highest spiritual and moral standing. Let us pray that students of Torah will enlist and volunteer specifically to combat units.

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Dedication

We daven for a complete and speedy refuah for:

Nir Rephael ben Rachel Bracha
Yisrael ben Rivka

Rivka Reena bat Gruna Natna

Arye Yitzchak ben Geula Miriam

Neta bat Malka

Meira bat Esther

Together with all cholei Yisrael

Hemdat Yamim is dedicated

to the memory of:

Those who fell in wars

for our homeland

 

Eretz Hemdah's beloved friends

and Members of

Eretz Hemdah's Amutah

 

Rav Shlomo Merzel z”l
Iyar 10, 5771

 

Rav Reuven Aberman z"l

Tishrei 9 ,5776

 

Mr. Shmuel & Esther Shemesh z"l

Sivan 17 / Av 20

 

Mr. Moshe Wasserzug z"l

Tishrei 20 ,5781

 

R' Eliyahu Carmel z"l

Rav Carmel's father

Iyar 8 ,5776

 

Mrs. Sara Wengrowsky

bat RMoshe Zev a”h.

Tamuz 10 ,5774

 

Rav Asher & Susan Wasserteil z"l
Kislev 9 / Elul 5780

RMeir ben

Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld z"l

&

Mrs. Sara Brachfeld z"l

Tevet 16 ,5780

 

RYaakov ben Abraham & Aisha

and

Chana bat Yaish & Simcha

Sebbag, z"l

 

Rav Yisrael Rozen z"l
Cheshvan 13, 5778

 

Rav Benzion Grossman z"l
Tamuz 23, 5777

 

R' Yitzchak Eizik

ben Yehuda Leib Usdan a"h,

Av 29

 

R' Abraham Klein z"l

Iyar 18 ,5779

&

Mrs. Gita Klein z"l

Av 4

 

R' Yitzchak Zev Tarshansky z"l

Adar 28, 5781

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of Chicago, Illinois
in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker
& Louis and Lillian Klein z”l

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