Updated: Sep 19, 2019
Ki Teitze Torah portion is probably one of the most informative portion when it comes to intimate relationships, especially between man and a woman. So what is this week's energy and what is the lessons for us before the beginning of the new year.
This week's portion begins with a calling. ‘If you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord, your God, will deliver him into your hands, and you take his captives, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman and you desire her, you may take her for yourself as a wife.
‘War against your enemies’ in spirituality means to leave the state of oneness with G-d and or to contend with evil inclination and the enticements of the physical world.
To be more specific, 'against your enemies' means in terms of battles. In the soul’s natural environment - the spiritual worlds above - there is no conflict, there are no enemies and there isn't any kind of war. However, when the soul “goes out” from that setting of spiritual worlds and descends to the material world, it is confronted by challenges that may require it to engage in battle. A battle between good and evil or a battle between right or wrong.
The Torah’s conception of war is a struggle to transform even the lowest elements of existence into a dwelling for G‑d. Meaning, to make an effort within ourselves with our actions to uncover spirituality within the material world we live in. Furthermore, even when there is no explicit command for war, the potential is there to forcefully extend the boundaries of holiness and enable it to encompass areas that were previously governed by materialism. 'above your enemies’ conveying the promise that even as the soul descends into the material world and confronts challenges, it always possesses the power to overcome them. Since the soul is “an actual part of G‑d” it is always above worldly influence anyway and has the power to overcome all obstacles and transform its environment. From a g-dless environment to such an environment where G-d dwells.
Moreover, it is the challenge of “battle” that brings out the essential power, which the soul possesses. For such confrontation, with material matters, forces a person to draw on his inner strength to bring an awareness of our inner G‑dly nature - our inner godly core, in terms of being aware of the spiritual realms as they are always exists around us.
When that G‑dly core is aroused, a person can overcome any challenges, and spread G‑dliness in all settings. In this way, we become G‑d’s partners and manifest G‑d’s purpose in creation. In this war we face against our false conceptions in all that regards the phisical world, victory is ours - there is a promise for that and more than that ‘and you take his captives’, when aware of the battle and facing it, we can discover and reveal sacred sparks of material things. Or as the Kabbalah says - raise them to holiness
So we are talking here about some sort of inner battle, and what a more tailored inner battle allegory there is, then the bond between man and woman in all kinds of relationships. This portion Ki Teize is probably one of the most informative portion in all that regards to intimate relationships. Especially between man and a woman. We have a case in which a man goes out to battle where he sees a beautiful woman and he takes her as captive. We have laws of engagement, what happens when a man has two wives, what happen if a man is found lying with a married woman or if there is a virgin girl betrothed to a man, and another man finds her in the city, and lies with her and so forth. So then we must then understand, what does the relationship types here and their laws are trying to tell us.
“We must not immediately give-in to this aspect of what we see, but rather we should take it, preserve it in order to better observe it, and not immediately use it..”
This week's portion study is revealing us a trivial thing: we are in a constant Inner Conflict 'When you go out…' as we said means when you leave your state of oneness with G‑d.'…to war' or 'against your enemy' means the physical world or our selfish willing or ego. Materialism and so forth. '…and you see among the captives' the captives refers to all the materialist aspects of the world, in which there are captive sparks of divinity. '…a beautiful woman' means if you find yourself beckoned by the external beauty of physical reality, its sensuality, and the pleasure it promises. '…you shall take her' teaches us that we must not immediately give-in to this aspect of what we see, but rather we should take it…. Preserve it in order to better observe it, and not immediately use it. '…as a wife' the word for "wife" in Hebrew ("isha") is cognate to the word for "fire offering" ("isheh"), which infers that you should elevate the divine sparks in the material matters you confront to their divine source, rather than allow the experience of this world, the materialism, to drag you further away from G‑d and away from divinity.
By the word wife – ISHA, ISHE – the fire offering, we are given of the task of consecrate the materialism to G‑d's service, and use it to enhance our relationship with Him. So that instead of creating division and separation, we can create a union. Because anyway everything comes from the higher source of divinity, even all material matters. '…she will shave her head and trim her nails….' the captive woman, as we have said, allegorically signifies the aspect of our consciousness that had been trapped in materialism aspects of the world.
Redeeming this captive occurs on two levels:
Shave her head - the intellect from its material orientation in order to be restored to full divine consciousness.
Similarly, to trim her nails allegorically signifies the unnecessary emotional indulgences we seek.
Then '…and she will cry for her father and mother for a month….' our soul must cry for her father and mother, for the divine awareness it knew before it was captured. The "father" signifies the consciousness of Abba, the attribute of chochma. The "mother" signifies the consciousness of the “mother” Imma, bina.
So we see this portion has a wide spiritual significance. The relationship between man and woman is the metaphor for the relationship between G‑d and Israel. To translate this into spiritual terms: The land of Israel, the land of Divine grace, represents the desire and will of G‑d, and the inner conflicts represents our divine’s soul attraction to worldly things, and desires related to the materialism. There are two aspects to material existence. Our world was created because G‑d “desired a dwelling in the lower worlds”. the physical universe can serve as a dwelling for G‑d, a place where His essence is revealed. But as the term “lower worlds” implies, G‑d’s existence is not fully revealed in our environment, especially when our material nature prevent us from holiness, or prevent us from recognizing it. Our attempts to resolve these contradictory is often characterized by conflict, an inner conflict, and this is the Torah’s conception of war. A struggle to transform even the lowest elements of existence into a dwelling for G‑d. So in this week we are requested to go out to battle in order to, in a way, discover our resources – rescue our g-dly sparks.
A person need not fear undertaking such efforts; of war, on the contrary, we are assured by a divine blessing - a divine promise, that even as the soul descends into our material world and confronts challenges, it always possesses the power to overcome them. Since the soul is “an actual part of G‑d,” it is always above worldly influence and has the power to overcome all obstacles and transform its environment. As we said before, it is the challenge of “battle” that brings out the essential power, which the soul possesses. For such confrontation compels a person to draw on his inner strength. The concept of battle is relevant within our own lives. A person must challenge himself; and this means more than a commitment to gradual progress in claiming spiritual growth. This endeavor involves a constant struggle. A person cannot reach a level of spiritual achievement and then leave it to be. Instead, he must continually strive to advance further. The inner “battles” necessary to bring an unbounded divine potential each of us possesses within our souls, and the effects of these efforts extend beyond our individual selves, effecting the world at large.
We have both material and spiritual desires within us and there is a dynamic tension between them as each seek to control our consciousness. In this vein, we can appreciate the importance of being “above your enemy.” If our spiritual tendencies are fighting with weapons against our material tendencies, we have within us a truly superior spiritual potential to overcome ourselves. And then, our soul which is “an actual part of G‑d.” can bring our true spiritual core into expression. And this, of course, happens only when we see the beautiful woman among the captives – the g-dly spark of our soul, and making the proper amends and adjustments for it to remain in our environment.
Watch the lesson for this week's Torah lesson.