Ariel Ben Avraham
Ariel Ben Avraham

Ki Teitzei: Freedom of goodness, slavery of evil

This portion of the Torah commandments about how we relate with each other in specific ways and circumstances.

The Creator repeatedly commands us to choose goodness by recognizing what it does for us, and also tells us what is about in practical terms. Goodness defines itself as a ruling ethical principle that doesn’t compromise with anything less than what it is.

“You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep driven away, and [do not] hide yourself from them; you shall surely bring them back to your brother.” (Deuteronomy 22:1)

In a deeper understanding, beyond the clear and simple meaning of this particular verse, we are also required to protect the personal moral and ethical assets of our fellows, and watch over them not to be lost in the materialistic playground of ego’s fantasies and illusions.

This refers particularly to the Torah values that shape the Jewish identity, that we must cherish as the links that keep us united together to confront the lower traits and trends that threat the dignity of life.

In this sense, we are obligated to provide the proper Jewish education to our children as promised by our ancestors when they accepted the Torah as their covenant with God.

“And if your brother is not near you and you know him not, then you shall bring it [his lost valuable property] home to your house and it shall be with you until your brother seeks after it, and you shall restore it to him.” (22:2)

The commandment of brotherhood among the children of Israel is given regardless of knowing or not knowing each other. The fundamental fact of recognizing each other’s Jewishness is enough to protect our physical integrity and personal property.

“(…) you can’t hide yourself. (…) and [do not] hide yourself from them; you shall surely help him to lift them up again.” (22:3-4)

This commandment is repeated often to underline the meaning of reaching out to others in goodness, for the sake of it. We also learn that not doing goodness is unacceptable, for this is equal to allowing wickedness to dwell in our midst. Lifting others’ goodness means expanding and strengthening goodness to make it prevail in everyone.

The Prophet reminds us in the haftarah for this portion, that once we unify and harmonize all traits, aspects and expressions of consciousness through and for goodness (what we know as Jerusalem), we will see it expanded as much as it will. This is God’s promise to Israel.

“For you shall spread abroad on the right hand and on the left; and your seed shall possess the nations, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.” (Isaiah 54:3)

As we have referred frequently in our commentaries in this blog, the “nations” and “cities” represent traits and trends in human consciousness that are not conducted in, with, for and toward goodness. Hence their desolation ceases to be when we guide them and direct them in the ways, means and attributes of goodness.

“For the mountains may depart, and the hills be removed; but My loving kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall My covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord that has compassion on you.” (Ibid. 54:4)

God tells us that His loving kindness remains always in us, to make us aware that goodness is in us, as the foundation of the covenant with which we committed to make it prevail among (in) us and among the nations.

Ideologies and beliefs can change, depart or being removed, but goodness remains. As we achieve this full awareness, peace follows as the essential outcome of goodness and primordial reason for our covenant with the Creator of all.

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
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