The morality of Torah

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Torah reading is from Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19. The name of this portion of the Torah is called “Ki Teitzei” (“when you go out”). The portion for reading from the prophets is from Isaiah 54:1-10, and from the New Testament from Matthew 5:27-30.

All of these readings like every word from the Bible is rich and important. The most important thing is to read the word of God and to read it in order and regularly. There is no antidote against hate and anti-Semitism, racism, horrible abuse in families and every other depravity that humans can invent.

I am not talking about religion or “churchianity”. I am talking about the simple reading of God’s word. One of the most anti-Semitic countries in Europe was, and still is, Poland. Yes, during World War II, the largest number of men and women who are commemorated in the Yad VaShem Museum of the Holocaust in Jerusalem who are called “Righteous Among the Gentiles” are from Poland. Most of them are Catholic clergy.

What distinguishes this group of righteous people is that they were daily Bible readers. The word of God is a spiritual medical vitamin against the bestiality of humans against other humans.

Read the word of God. Follow the Jewish calendar of reading the Bible. It is something good for you and healthy for your life in general, and especially for your spiritual life.

One of the most shocking texts for our 20th Century modern mindset is this text from the word of God:

“When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God delivers them into your hand, and you take them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and desire her and would take her for your wife, then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and trim her nails. She shall put off the clothes of her captivity, remain in your house, and mourn her father and her mother a full month; after that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife.” – Deuteronomy 21:10-13 [NKJV]

At first sight, this text gives me the heebie jeebies. I am by nature a peace lover. I don’t like to fight, I don’t like war, I don’t hate people from other races or colors.

And when the Torah, the Word of God, writes such a text that allowed people going to war to see a beautiful woman, and take her… It makes my stomach turn and tumble…

This is especially true now days, after the USA has pulled out of Afghanistan in such a sudden way. The Taliban have taken the country so quickly, with the intent of establishing an Islamic Caliphate under the Islamic Sharia law (medieval Islamic, dark-ages legal system) as the law of the land.

The Taliban has a record, like that of Isis in Syria and Iraq, of beheadings, mass murders, rape, and abuse, and of selling the captive women to other Islamic groups – especially the Yazidi women, even very young girls – into sex slavery for a handful of dollars. Then I read a text in God’s word that seems to allow taking a captive beautiful woman to your home, no questions asked. No concern like, “Young beautiful girl, are you married? Are you engaged, do you have a family?”

It seems barbaric and horrible to our 21st Century mentality. However, let us look closely at what the word of God is teaching us here in this portion of the Torah.

First, don’t act like a beast! You would like this beautiful woman to be your wife, your legal and proper wife, according to the Law?

This limits your options. You can’t just take her as a sex slave, or sell her into prostitution, or abuse her. You have to take her as your legal wife, and therefore all the laws of the word of God apply in this relationship.

Then you have to take her to your home. There in your home she will be respected and allowed to mourn for her family for one month. You can’t touch her or dishonor her during these 30 days.

Second, the 30 days of mourning of this woman in your home, with your family there and your grandmother there, will definitely cool down your desires. You have shaved her hair and cut her nails and have taken some of her beauty off, that definitely will make you think twice about abusing this captive woman in your house.

Third, the Torah says: “…after that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife.” You now have lived with this captive woman 30 days in your house and you have not touched her physically. “After that”, if you still want this woman, the only way that you can have her is make her your legal and lawful wife.

In the Jewish world, that means that you give her all the rights and privileges committed to in writing; a document of divorcement, a Ketubah, a contract of obligation including a price that you would have to pay her if you divorce her.

What the Islamic barbarians of Isis and the Taliban are doing is a totally different behavior, animal behavior. Rape, slavery, and abuse, both physical and mental, and spiritual abuse, and torture.

Thinking of a document that is thousands of years old, the Torah, God’s word, making such adjustments in the behavior and moral restraint of an Israelite man is nothing but admirable considering the time and the culture of the times and of the place.

The next big law that the Torah regulates in our portion of the Torah is the law of inheritance. If a person is married to two wives – like Jacob and Elkanah, the husband of Hannah, from the first chapters of the book of First Samuel – he can’t be partial and ignore the laws of inheritance.

He must leave 50 percent of his property to his first born son, even if he doesn’t like that son, and likes the son of his other wife more. This was written thousands of years ago and it regulates the desire and choice of a person by forcing the person to do what is right, just, and orderly.

These rules tell us something very important and basic about us, human beings. It tells us, you can’t do what you want to and break the rules and the laws of a just and proper society.

No matter who you are, a king, or a clown, you have some obligations toward your fellow man and your family. And you must honor the members of your family as well as your neighbor next door, and treat them right.

You know that today, in the name of freedom of choice, a father doesn’t have to give his inheritance to his family. There are cases in the West of very rich men who left their wealth to their mistresses and lovers, and not to their legal wives.

This is the importance of the Torah, it is God’s revelation, allowing for a sane and righteous society. Yes, the New Testament also tells us that the Torah is righteous, spiritual, and just.

Many Christians, who don’t read the word of God for themselves, are under the impression, from the Christian Church Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries, that the Torah is over and unjust. And there is no love or grace in the Torah, just harsh judgment.

But, dear brothers and sisters, here are the words of the apostle Paul on this issue:

“Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.” – Romans 7:12-14 [NKJV]

The problem of sin is not because of the Torah, Paul states it clear and sound: “I am carnal and sold under sin!” The problem is not with God’s word, or the Torah, it is with we humans who are “sold under sin”, enslaved to sin, by choices that we make, by our out-of-control appetites.

Sin comes into our lives by our choices, not because of the Torah. The Torah is a mirror that reflects the sins it sees in us to make us aware and repent. We are approaching the High Holidays – Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), and 10 days later Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), and four days later the feast of Sukkoth (the Feast of Tabernacles). These holidays are the same ones that Yeshua and all of his apostles celebrated, honored, and rejoiced in, together with all of Israel.

Please read the whole Torah portion, and the prophets and the New Testament text that is listed above, each week. This week especially is important, the reading of Isaiah 54:1-10.

Just to whet your appetite here are two of the verses from Isaiah 54:1-3:

“‘Sing, O barren, You who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, You who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate Than the children of the married woman,’ says the Lord. ‘Enlarge the place of your tent, And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left, And your descendants will inherit the nations, And make the desolate cities inhabited.’” – Isaiah 54:1–3 [NKJV]

What a wonderful promise from God to Jerusalem and to the people of Israel! For centuries, the Jewish people read this text and they were in the deep dark diaspora living as second- and third-class citizens in Europe and Yemen, and even deep in Asia. There was no ray of hope to be seen on the horizon.

They opened the word of God and read these words of Isaiah. A ray of hope and faith and joy enveloped them as they listened, and their souls gained the strength to continue living under the yoke of hate and rejection, and they were able to survive as new strength overcame their fatigue, allowing them to survive under hostile conditions.

They didn’t have a country, they didn’t have a government, they didn’t have a flag, or their own currency, or a national anthem. They had the prophet Isaiah promising them a rebirth and a birth of Jewish children, and a rebuilding of their national home, the land of Israel.

And beyond this, Isaiah promises that the nations will deliver the descendants of Israel, and they will become the inheritance of Israel. The nations will come to worship in Jerusalem according to the 14th chapter of Zechariah and the 66th chapter of Isaiah, and much more.

For us today, the disciples of Yeshua the Messiah, living in Israel, there is a great reason to rejoice and to be strong. The catalyst, and the motivator, and the Way, the Truth, and the Life that will make these promises a reality is only one Jew – Yeshua the Messiah – and the son of God, king of the Jews!

This article originally appeared on Netivyah and reposted with permission.