Just as G-d’s presence fills the world but G-d is not the world, so too, G-d’s mercy fills creation but G-d can’t be defined by His attribute of mercy. Some commandments, such as shiluach haken – the chasing away of the mother bird before taking her eggs or chicks – are expressions of G-d’s mercy. Other commandments, such as the commandment to utterly destroy Amalek, come to show us that mercy alone cannot sustain the world, and that the revelation of G-d’s mercy alone cannot define our commitment to perform His commandments.

Ki Teitzei (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19)
Parashat Ki Teitzei is read on Shabbat:
Elul 11, 5774/September 6, 2014