Ki Tetze | פרשת כי תצא

Devarim 21:10-25:19 [Hebcal] [על התורה] דברים כא י-כה יט

Haftarah: Yeshayahu 54:1-10 (all) | Fifth of the “Seven of Consolation”

[על התורה] הפטרה: ישעיהו נד א-י (ע”פ כל המנהגים) | שבע דנחמתא 5

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Ki Tetze is a parsha of law-giving. It contains many categories of numerous laws, organized by subject, some of which we have encountered earlier in the text and some of which are given here for the first time. The laws govern public behavior and ethical norms, along with private behavior and family law. Ki Tetze is the source of a great number of halachic discussions in the Talmud, as well as aggadic interpretation. It must be emphasized that these laws are to be read along with the Oral Tradition, and not understood simply in their summary form.

Captive Women, Unloved Firstborns

[Devarim 21:10-17]

Women captured in war must be accorded particular rights, including the right to mourn and not to be sold into bondage in the case of a subsequent divorce.

If a man has two wives, ones of which he favors and one he does not and both of whom have borne him sons, he cannot allow his favor to override the right of the firstborn son of the disfavored wife.

Ben Sorer u-Moreh: The Defiant Son

[Devarim 21:18-23]

A child whose parents declare him publicly to be defiant is to be stoned to death.3

Shiluach ha-Ken: Sending Away the Mother Bird

[Devarim 22:6-7]

When taking eggs from a bird’s nest, the mother bird must first be shooed away.

Protecting Others

[Devarim 22:8]

A person must build a fence around their rooftop to prevent others from falling off.

Kilayim: Forbidden Mixtures

[Devarim 22:9-11]

A vineyard should not be planted with two kinds of seed. An ox and a donkey should not plow together, and sha’atnez, the mixture of wool and linen, is forbidden.

Tzitzit (Fringes)

[Devarim 29:12]

Also, garments with corners must have fringes on each of the four corners.

Virginity, Adultery, Assault, and Mamzerut

[Devarim 29:13-23:3]

The next section of laws includes difficult situations surrounding accusations of sexual impropriety. The first concerns a woman wrongfully accused by her new husband of having violated her virginity. If there is evidence to the contrary, the man is to be flogged and fined; if the accusation proves to be true, then the woman is to be stoned to death.

If a man commits adultery, both he and woman with whom he committed the adultery shall be put to death. Laws concerning rape follow.

A man may not marry the ex-wife of his father. A mamzer, the child of an illicit relationship, is barred from the kahal (congregation), even to the tenth generation.

Restrictions on Ammonites and Moabites

[Devarim 23:4-9]

No Ammoni (Ammonites) or Moavi (Moabite) may enter the kahal, due to their inhospitable behavior when Bnei Yisrael came up out of Egypt, and because the Moabites hired Bilaam to curse the Jews. However, the Edomi (Edomite) is Yisrael’s kin and may enter the congregation in the third generation.

Outside the Camp

[Devarim 23:10-15]

If one had a nocturnal emission, he must remain outside the camp that day. Towards evening (lifnot erev) he washes his body in water and at sundown (ke-vo ha-shemesh) he can reenter the camp.

Also, relieving oneself must be done in a designated area outside of the camp, and excrement must be covered with earth.

Miscellaneous Laws

[Devarim 23:16-26]

Slaves must not be ill-treated, and fugitive slaves are not to be turned in. Women are not to be cult prostitutes and vows can only be fulfilled with ethically obtained, honorable pay.

Interest cannot be added to loans to fellow Jews.

Vows must be completed. It’s permissible to eat as much as you like when entering another’s vineyard, but not to take more beyond that.

Additional Laws of Divorce

[Devarim 24:1-5]

A woman who is divorced by her husband, remarries again and divorces from her second husband (or he dies), is ineligible to be remarried to the first man.

A man in the first year of marriage is exempted from army service, in order to bring his wife joy (ve-simeach et ishto – וְשִׂמַּח אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ).

Labor Laws, and More

[Devarim 24:6-22]

Also, it is forbidden to take the source of one’s livelihood as collateral. Kidnappers of fellow Jews are subject to death penalty. Those with Tzara’at (Biblical leprosy) must be careful to follow the kohen’s instructions, remembering what happened to Miriam (in Parashat Behaalotcha)

Returning to loans, one may not enter a debtor’s home to seize collateral. Basic necessities seized as collateral must be returned come night. Laborers are to be remunerated on the day they have performed their work, and must not be abused.

People are only to be put to death for crimes they have committed themselves.

Widows and orphans must be cared for and accorded their rights. A small amount of crops forgotten in the field must be left there for the destitute, and some fruit must be left behind on grapevines and olive trees for the same reason.


[Devarim 25:1-4]

Those found guilty in a trial are subject to up to 40 lashes.

Also, an ox must not be muzzled while working.

Yibum: Levirate Marriage

[Devarim 25:5-16]

If a man dies without leaving a son, the husband’s brother is obligated to marry her and produce a son (yibmah). This first son is regarded as the dead man’s son. If the brother does not wish to marry his deceased brother’s wife, he may perform a ritual instead, called chalitzah.

A woman may not attack a man’s genitals.

Weights must be fair.

Blot out Amalek

[Devarim 25:17-19]

At the close of the parashah, Bnei Yisrael and enjoined to remember (zakhor) what Amalek did to them on their way out of Egypt.4 Amalek must be blotted out completely.

Haftarah Summary: רני עקרה

[Yeshayahu 54:1-10]

The haftarah continues the seven haftarot of consolation that follow Tisha be-Av and lead up to Rosh Hashana, and as such its themes are of consolation. Yisrael, likened to a barren woman, is told to rejoice and prepare for a large family with many descendants. Redemption and the end of exile are coming, and the once-scorned wife will be welcomed back. G-d has hidden His face, but only briefly, as during the time of Noach; His love for Yisrael is eternal.

Image: Joseph Beuys, Sibylla (Justice), 1957. Found object. Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany. Used with permission.


  1. This is one of the famous examples of where the Oral Law elaborates that so many warnings and safeguards are put in place for such a case to be operative, that a ben sorer u-moreh has never been and never will be.1

    A capital case put to death by impaling must be buried on the same day.

    Neighbor’s Property

    [Devarim 22:1-4]

    If one sees their neighbor’s livestock roaming, they are obligated to return the animal, as well as any other object. If the owner is unknown, then the article is to be kept until claimed.


    [Devarim 22:5]

    Women are not permitted to dress as men, nor men as women.2Again, this law must be read contextually according to Chazal and later poskim.

  2. The text here is the subject of rich commentary as to the nature of what Amalek did and why its consequences are so absolute.

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