Ki Teitzei – “When You Go Out”

This week’s parasha is entitled Ki Teitzei. Ki Teitzei is translated as “When You Go Out” and it covers Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19.

This morning’s parasha can easily be summarized by saying that it is filled with commandments and instructions. There are roughly 70 or so commandments contained in this portion of scripture.

They cover a wide variety of topics to include how to handle men who have been cursed or have been murdered. Instructions about handling money and being honest. Commandments about how to dress, commandments concerning marriage and even rape. Rules about how to build a just society, and how to punish people who transgress the bounds of that society.

In the midst of all of these laws about paying laborers and plowing your field, is a commandment about parenting. In verse 16 of chapter 24, it says: “Parents shall not be put to death for children, nor children be put to death for parents: a person shall be put to death only for his own crime”. Now at first glance this may not seem like a mantra used for parents. But it’s actually some incredibly deep and profound advice.

I don’t know, maybe because I have been a grandfather for the past year and a half, I’ve found myself reflecting on my own children and remembering the awesome moments and the challenges of being a parent. I’ve been praying for Adonai to lead my daughter in thought word and deed so that she too can be a successful parent.

There is and always has been a lot of pressure on parents to raise their children the “right” way. In today’s modern global and technical society, social media seemingly has an infinite number of suggestions and strategies for raising children.

So much so that a lot of the information can be conflicting. Breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. Cry-it-out or co-sleep. These debates have torn the internet apart, divided individuals and may have even caused confusion.

But honestly, these overwhelming options are all indicative of our modern era. Back during biblical days and the time of the Torah, there weren’t any parenting guidebooks. There were no Dr. Spocks or Dr. Phils and learning how to be a parent was something that happened over time with the help of those closest to them.

Families generally lived in larger clans, and there was always a child who needed to be cared for. I submit that this may be how the saying it takes a village to raise a child was developed.

In today’s modern society, families live further apart from each other, some living in completely different cities or even countries. Today, there isn’t as much hands-on learning about how to raise children. Parents must figure much of it out on their own, and the pressure dare I say is enormous. They are responsible not only for ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the child so that he or she lives to adulthood, but they are also responsible for training their kids to be good and responsible people. It’s almost like turning carbon into a diamond.

With this level of pressure, it’s a breath of fresh air to learn that parents are not directly responsible for their children’s sins. Of course, parents can and should work hard to raise their children to be good people. But ultimately, the responsibility to be a good person belongs to that child.

In the book of Proverbs in chapter 22 verse 6, this sentiment is clearly stated: “Raise up a child in the way he ought to go; he will not swerve from it even in old age.”

In other words, the work of raising children isn’t about raising the best child ever. It’s about raising a child in the way they ought to go, so that they seek after the Lord and follow His commandments. So that they respect the rights of other people. So that they are morally straight and have integrity and character.

The pressure of modern parenting doesn’t leave a lot of room for error. But thank Adonai that He gives parents that needed space. Adonai understands that parents may fail. That they are not perfect nor are their children perfect. This imperfection is the entire reason that Yeshua came to this Earth, lived a perfect life as a human man, (which by the way is the life we try to have our children emulate), and as 1 Timothy Chapter 2 tells us then gave Himself as a ransom sacrifice for the sins that we commit so that He could atone our sins and allow us to have a right relationship with Him and God the Father and ultimately experience eternal life in the presence of the 3 in one God.

It’s hard being a parent. Even the ultimate father God almighty Himself, had to deal with unruly and rebellious children in Adam and Eve. I’m grateful that we have a God who understands our struggles as parents and gave us the tools through His Holy Word to be successful.

Shabbat Shalom.