Israel, Politics, Religion

In our mouths and in our hearts: Day 49

Today: War. The end?
601. “You must not go back that way again.” (Deuteronomy 17:16) = don’t live in Egypt
602. “When you approach a town to attack it, you shall offer it terms of peace.” (Deuteronomy 20:10)
603. “You shall never concern yourself with their welfare or benefit as long as you live.” (Deuteronomy 23:7) = the nations of Ammon and Moab
604. “When in your war against a city you have to besiege it a long time in order to capture it, you must not destroy its trees, wielding the ax against them.” (Deuteronomy 20:19) = trees that yield food
605. “There shall be an area for you outside the camp, where you may relieve yourself.” (Deuteronomy 23:13)
606. “With your gear you shall have a spike, and when you have squatted you shall dig a hole with it and cover up your excrement.” (Deuteronomy 23:14)
607. “Before you join battle, the priest shall come forward and address the troops.” (Deuteronomy 20:2) = anoint a priest to talk to the troops
608. “When a man takes a bride … he shall be exempt one year [from military service] for the sake of his household, to give happiness to the woman he has married.” (Deuteronomy 24:5) = and likewise one who builds a house or plants a vineyard
609. “…he shall not go out with the army or be assigned to it for any purpose.” (Deuteronomy 24:5) = the cases in #608
610. “Do not stand in dread of them, for Adonai your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God.” (Deuteronomy 7:21) = don’t be afraid and retreat in time of war
611. “When you take the field against your enemies, and Adonai your God delivers them into your power and you take some of them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman and you desire her…” (Deuteronomy 21:10-13)
612. “You must not sell her for money.” (Deuteronomy 21:14) = the captive in #611
613. “Since you had your will of her, you must not enslave her.” (Deuteronomy 21:14) = the captive in #611
And that’s it. That’s all she wrote. Not the way I would have wanted things to end. But maybe that’s appropriate. This list certainly raises questions, more than most of the lists have, and I’m starting to think that the whole list is really 613 questions, and I don’t have answers to all of them. And maybe the way to commit to receiving Torah is to keep raising those questions.
On the other hand, perhaps the atrocities of war aren’t the best way to welcome the holiday. So for now, in anticipation of revelation, I’m going to loop back around to the beginning.
1. The First Commandment — “I am Adonai your God” (Exodus 20:2).
Chag sameiach!

3 thoughts on “In our mouths and in our hearts: Day 49

  1. You know, I was thinking about the parallels between the 50 nature of Shavuot and the Yovel. Like – if it’s 50 – free the slaves! So then I thought about the line from RYHL – avdey zman avdey avadim hem, eved hashem hu levado chofshi. And so I thought, here for 49 days we have been “avdey zman” mamash. Here we payed attention to time for 49 days, now we go free – to what? To Sinai. So maybe it’s appropriate that the list ends with a rule about not enslaving what you love…

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