Friday, September 12, 2008

Triangle of Kindness

I have been very busy the past few days, B'H', in preparation of starting a new job on Monday. That being said, here is a little thought of mine about this week's parshah (Ki Saitzai).

This parshash contains several references to marriage: the captured woman, acceptable converts from certain nations, gittim, and yibum. Each of these instances constitutes "unusual" circumstances; they are not commonplace unions, and involve a loss of comfort while carrying the risk of stigma, as underscored by the proximity to the various mitzvot in the parshah that deal with "forbidden mixtures. Yet even more interestingly, what does this proximity also underscore?

Elsewhere in the parshah, the prevailing theme is a desire to prevent unsavory middot- dishonesty (false weights/measures), greed (leaving yield to the poor and underprivileged), insensitivity (neglecting to consider someone else's safety, i.e. leaving a pit uncovered, a roof unfenced), and even downright evil (Amalek). The point therefore is that these marriages are ones that may seem to require less compassion on the part of the Jew, because the circumstances are abnormal. Why show compassion to someone who belonged to a nation we can war against, to a person from a nation we rightly feel negatively about, to a woman who is unable to remain with her husband because they become incompatible, to a woman who did not bear a child to her deceased husband? Isn't it only 'natural' to think of these individuals as lacking in some way and consequently warranting less favourable treatment?

The Torah answers No for exactly this reason. We should indeed overcome this inclination and remember that above all else, these marriages still require the one ingredient required of all marriages to succeed: compassion. By considering these persons as marriage partners then, we must strive to always demonstrate compassion towards them, for it is precisely this compassion that purifies the relationship and renders it a suitable abode for the Shechina. The parshah in turn underscores a primary trait that must exist in all marriages if they are to remain spiritually feasible.

Good Shabbos!

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