If you like doing the right thing Ki Teitzei is for you. In fact this week’s portion contains something like seventy different mitzvahs laid out across five chapters. Ki Teitzei reminds us of the importance of environmental conservation, living compassionately with animals, and leaving excess for the poor.
Living in balance with our environment is extremely important because Hashem emanates this creation to sustain our lives. Without food and water our body would shrink and wither, without oxygen our lungs could not enrich our blood as our hearts pumps life to our most basic cells. If we as individuals compromising a whole abuse the air, land, and water around us we can only expect a life of sickness and despair.
Ki Teitzei is a reminder, it reminds us that there is more involved in taking care of this world than just keeping water clean and the soil toxins free. Compassion to animals is stressed in this week’s portion because animals play a critical and complex role in this world. They provide companionship, they can aid in farming, and they contribute to the bio-diversity that makes this wonderful world tick. If we are unable to show compassion to over living, breathing, and feeling species how can we ever show compassion to other humans or even to ourselves? The answer is we can’t.
Environmental exploitation and cruelty towards animals are not the only things Ki Teitzei prohibits, not providing a level of subsistence living for our poor is prohibited. We all worry about health care, housing, etc. . . but everyone regardless of age, race, gender, tax bracket are entitled to knowing they are responsible for bettering their life and their families life without the fear of living cold, hungry, stigmatized, and more diseased than your neighbor.
We as Jews and as human beings are not just responsible for “getting ours” we are responsible for living a conscience life that does not lessen the quality of life for our neighbors.
Jeremiah@punktorah.org Twitter: @circlepitbimah