WWOT – Parashat Ki Tetzei

To inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women
By Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, Executive Director, Women’s League For Conservative Judaism

Parashat Ki Tetzei truly shows how much our Torah has changed over the years. Deuteronomy, chapter 21, verse 15, says, “If a man has two wives, one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him sons, but the first son is the son of the unloved one…” Two wives? One loved? One unloved? Seriously? Yes – polygamy was once allowed – remember our forefathers?  And, not only did parents play favorites, but husbands also had their favorite wives. Gratefully, around the year 1000 CE, Rabbenu Gershom Me’or Ha-Golah (“the Light of the Exile”) decreed a ban on a Jewish man who takes more than one wife.

Later, the Torah reading continues by describing the rebellious child, “ben sorer oo’moreh,” who can be stoned in public for his behavior. We cannot relate to a man having two wives, nor can we understand such grave consequences for a wayward child, yet these two examples show us how Jewish law has evolved.

Times have surely changed. Sisterhoods have surely changed, too. As we conclude this year, and begin the new year, take stock of how your sisterhood has changed and evolved since its inception. Just the way Jewish law has developed, so do organizations. What used to be the way to do things is not always what should continue to be done; we all need to re-examine ourselves and our organizations this time of year, to see how we can grow and develop and prosper.

WWOT, Weekly Words of Torah will be a brief paragraph prepared weekly by our new Executive Director, Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, presented in our “This Week @ Women’s League.” WWOT will provide meaningful thoughts related to the Weekly Torah Portion, an event on the Calendar, a Prayer, or something of Jewish interest, to inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women. If you have any particular interest in future topics, or want to send Rabbi Wolintz-Fields an email, you can contact her at ewolintz-fields@wlcj.org. Read previous Weekly Words of Torah here.