KI SEITZEI (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:18) — “Keep the Fiddler on the Roof!”

Anyone who has any religious training at all is familiar with the “boilerplate” phraseology that begins every blessing.

When we perform a religious ceremony, we thank G-d for giving us the opportunity to become holy. “You are blessed, our G-d, King of the world, who has made us holy with His Mitzvahs, and has commanded us to ______.”

There are lots of ceremonies with which we can fill in the blank: “…and has commanded us to…”

“…light Shabbos (or Yom Tov or Chanukah) candles.” “…eat Matzah.” “…perform a circumcision.” “…hear the sound of the Shofar.” “…sit in the Succah.”

The list goes on. Whenever we perform a religious ceremony, a holy act, we thank G-d for giving us the opportunity to make ourselves holy.

What we sometimes allow ourselves to forget is that holiness can be found in places other than the synagogue and Seder table.

One of the blessings that can be found in the prayer book is a rather uncommon one, most likely to be recited as a carpenter is helping you put the finishing touches on your house: “You are blessed, our G-d, King of the world, who has made us holy with His Mitzvahs, and has commanded us to … make a fence.”

The Torah tells us “When you build a new house, make a fence for your roof. Do not place blood in your house if someone falls…” (Deuteronomy, 22:8)

This verse is the biblical source for the requirement of maintaining a safe home. The Talmud (Kesuvos, 41b) inquires as to the source for the prohibition of raising a bad dog (a pit bull, perhaps?) in one’s home or putting up a shaky ladder. The Talmud refers us to the verse, “Do not place blood in your house…”

Maintaining safety is a very smart thing to do. It is very important to be socially responsible. But why do we say a blessing? Building a fence is not exactly a religious ceremony, is it?

Yes, it is. What could be a holier act than protecting G-d’s children?

TORAH TALK

KI SEITZEI (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:18)

Have a great Shabbos.

Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz  

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

“Hard-Boiled Compassion” (2009)

…The former “minister” who perpetrated this depraved deed told reporters that he expected “a great reward in Heaven.”  Personally, I suspect otherwise.  I suggest they bury him in something fireproof…

Read more

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“Spiritual Tay-Sachs (And How to Prevent It)” (2007)

…  Maybe you’re not orthodox.  Maybe you’re anti-orthodox.  Maybe you’re offended by the notion of orthodox rejection of non-orthodox clergy.  It doesn’t matter.  Save your arguments for less essential issues.  (Like conversion!  That can be “fixed” later.  This can’t…

 Get involved.  Tell your … friends to take care of this…

Read more

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 “The Changing of the Guard?” (2006)

 …I have a chicken coop in my back yard, and, to avoid being too graphic, it is easy to understand that a chicken coop, like a bathroom, is not an appropriate place to hang a Mezuzah.  Chickens are not known to be particularly fastidious about the cleanliness of their surroundings.  Therefore, I never put up a Mezuzah on the front door of my coop.

 I was wrong…

 I began to wonder.  What about protection?  The Mezuzah is more than just a symbol of the fact that G-d protects us.  According to our Sages, the presence of a Mezuzah actually contributes to that Divine protection. …  Does this mean, I mused, that for the last two years my chicken coop has been unprotected???…

Read more

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“Far-Away Neighbors and Next-Door Strangers” (2005)

…  We should all participate in relief efforts for all hurricane victims.  But keep in mind that neither FEMA nor the Red Cross is going to help Rabbi Schiff replace his six water-logged Torah scrolls. You and I are going to have to take care of those ourselves…

 

Read more

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“Captivating Beauty” (2004)

… The soldier has come into town, having just defeated the enemy.  He is intoxicated by the thrill of victory.  He has showed the enemy how powerful he is; he can do anything!  He sees a beautiful woman among the captives.   

The real problem is not that she is his captive.  The problem is that HE is HER captive! …

Read more

———————————————————————————

“Hard-Boiled Compassion” (2003)

 …The former “minister” who perpetrated this depraved deed told reporters that he expected “a great reward in Heaven.”  Personally, I suspect otherwise.  I suggest they bury him in something fireproof…

Read more

———————————————————————————

“Keep the Fiddler on the Roof!” (2002)

 …Maintaining safety is a very smart thing to do. It is very important to be socially responsible. But why do we say a blessing? Building a fence is not exactly a religious ceremony, is it? …

Read more

———————————————————————————

“I Could KILL That Kid!” (2001)

 … Since when do we punish someone for what he MIGHT someday do?  Okay, he’s not a great kid, he won’t win any Boy Scout merit badges, but doesn’t murder as a precautionary measure go a bit too far?! …

Read more

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“Tzedakah — Who Is Doing a Favor for Whom?” (2000)

 … Can you imagine walking into a pawnshop and borrowing $500 against some item of equal or greater value? Each day you come back to the pawn shop and ask for your security back because you need it for the evening. “Don’t worry,” you tell your creditor, “I’ll return it in the morning.”  …

 Read more.

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This is the weekly message at TorahTalk.org. Copyright © 2000-2013 by Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz.  May be reprinted. Please include copyright information.

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Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz is a Mohel (Brisrabbi.com) and chaplain in Monsey, New York. For information about scheduling a Bris or a lecture, or just to say hello, call (800) 83MOHEL.

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Published in: on August 16, 2002 at 1:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

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