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Ki Tetzei 5760

Ki Tetzei (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  Mazal Tov to Michael and Oralee Kanner, winners of the Polaroid Digital Camera donated by John Warren to encourage contributions. My son, Yedidya (his name means "beloved one of God"; the Almighty called King Solomon "Yedidya"), picked the winner.

I find the following information fascinating, so I thought I'd share it with you! The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is "uncopyrightable"; "stewardesses" is the longest word that is typed with only the left hand; and lastly, "clip" and "cleave" -- are two English words which both have two diametically opposed meanings. I am not sure what you'll do with it -- at least you'll have something interesting to say if you want to change the subject when someone starts talking about another person.

Last week I mentioned Rabbi Simcha Zissel of Kelm's comment that "Arrogance is a reprehensible trait that is the father of all other negative traits." Since humility is the antidote for arrogance, I thought that this week I would write about humility.


Humility is something that we all value -- usually in someone else. Theoretically, it's a virtue; in actuality, many people feel it's a detriment. Why? They identify "humility" with being a wimp --letting people walk all over you.

Not so! The Torah teaches us that Moshe Rabeinu (Moses, our teacher) was the most humble person whoever lived (Numbers 12:3); it also tells us that Moses was the only prophet who spoke "face to face" with the Almighty (Deuteronomy 34:10 -- all other prophets received their prophecy while in a dream or trance. Moses was able to engage the Almighty in conversation). Moses took dictation from the Almighty writing the Torah word for word, letter for letter as the Almighty commanded. Moses knew that the Torah said that he was the greatest of all prophets. How was it possible for him to behumble?

Here's the secret to Moses' humility and for us -- Moses knew of his strengths and accomplishments, but he knew something else that is a basic and vital truth: that all that he had and all that he accomplished was a gift from the Almighty.

Imagine that you met a man who told you, "I am a very special human being. Watch this! I can move my fingers!" You'd figure that this guy is off the wall. Almost everyone can move their fingers. However, we stand in awe of an Einstein's brain power. Both are gifts of God. At best we can have admiration that the individual used the gifts that were given him.

A person who is arrogant is too focused on himself to hear truth, to see his own faults, to help others (you have to be able to see other people's needs, their pain in order to help them). An arrogant person is more concerned about himself and how he appears to others than doing the right thing.

The Sages liken the Torah to water. It is necessary for life, it is essential for growth and for reaching potential. An arrogant person holds himself high like a mountain; water flows off a mountain. Water flows to a low place. To reach one's potential in life s/he needs humility.

Humility is freedom. What restrains us and inhibits us are our unnecessary concerns over ourselves, including how we appear in the eyes of the others. When a person is only concerned about the truth, and living by it, then that person is free to do what is most meaningful.

How do we work on and develop humility?

  1. Read eulogies. They're a good dose of humility. They help us understand the meaning of life. Try to write your own obituary. For what do you want to be remembered? This will help connect you to the Eternal.

  2. Realize you're a soul, not a body. Friendships and relationships will not last if they're only physical. Endeavors are not lasting if they're rooted solely in the material world. Human beings are never satisfied with materialism alone. Materialism should be a means, not an end. Fulfilling the soul's needs must be a real part of our striving. Tuning into the soul brings humility.

  3. Be too proud to be petty. Use humility to rise above arguments. Don't answer every insult.

  4. Use humility to open yourself up to wisdom. Without humility we can't hear wisdom because we are too stuck in our own subjective reality.

  5. One way to attain more objectivity is to give someone else advice. Dealing with another's issues will enable you to see your own situation more clearly.

Rabbi Noah Weinberg, founder and head of Aish HaTorah has a spectacular tape on humility. You can order it from 800-864-2373. Also, check out on the web, an article on humility which I drew from:

Portion of the Week

Ki Tetzei

Topics in this week's portion include: Women Captives, First-Born's Share, The Rebellious Son, Hanging and Burial, Returning Lost Articles, The Fallen Animal, Transvestitism, The Bird's Nest, Guard-Rails, Mixed Agriculture, Forbidden Combinations, Bound Tassels, Defamed Wife, Penalty for Adultery, Betrothed Maiden, Rape, Unmarried Girl, Mutilated Genitals, Mamzer, Ammonites & Moabites, Edomites & Egyptians, The Army Camp, Sheltering Slaves, Prostitution, Deducted Interest, Keeping Vows, Worker in a Vineyard, Field Worker, Divorce and Remarriage, New Bridegroom, Kidnapping, Leprosy, Security for Loans, Paying Wages on Time, Testimony of Close Relatives, Widows and Orphans, Forgotten Sheaves, Leftover Fruit, Flogging, The Childless Brother-in-Law, Weights and Measures, Remembering What Amalek Did to Us.


Dvar Torah
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states, "You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together" (Deuteronomy 22:10). Why and what can we learn from this?

The Sefer Chinuch ("Book of Education" which explains the 613 Commandments -- yes, there are more than 10 Commandments! --) explains that one reason for this prohibiliton is that two unlike animals will be distressed if forced to work together. Every animal needs to be with others of its own kind. The Chinuch adds that this has practical applications relating to people. Do not appoint two people for a joint task if they are so different that working together will be uncomfortable for them. Educators and employers should take note!

CANDLE LIGHTING - September 8:

Jerusalem 6:19   Miami 7:15  New York 7:00
L.A. 6:52  Hong Kong 6:16  Singapore 6:48
Guatemala  5:51  Honolulu   6:23  J'Burg 5:39
Melbourne 6:46  Moscow 6:48  London 7:14
Atlanta 7:37  Toronto 7:24  Montreal 7:00


Those who live in the present
have nothing but a past
when they come to the future.

1 2 3 2,914

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