Ki Teitzei contains many mitzvot, a selection of which has been included here. It starts with the laws of the ‘female captive’ and her potential marriage to a soldier in battle. It then discusses the laws of a man who has two wives (this later became prohibited in rabbinic law). He has a firstborn son with the wife he does not love, and another son with his preferred spouse, but he must still give the firstborn rights to the son of the former, not to son of the latter. The laws of the ‘wayward and rebellious son’ are then detailed.

If one spots someone else’s animal wandering off the path, there is a mitzvah to look after it and return it to its owner; this applies to all lost objects. If one sees a fallen animal on the road, there is a mitzvah to help its owner pick it up. A man is not allowed to wear women’s clothing, nor is a woman allowed to wear men’s clothing. If one sees a bird’s nest with eggs in it, there is a mitzvah to send away the mother bird before taking the eggs (shiluach haken).

When building a new house, one must erect a fence on the roof to prevent someone falling off. One must not plant certain mixtures of seeds in one’s field or vineyard (kilayim), nor may one plough with an ox and donkey together, nor wear wool and linen together in the same garment (sha’atnez). Whilst men from Ammon and Moab are allowed to convert to Judaism, they are only allowed to marry fellow converts.

A man who becomes accidentally impure must immerse himself in a mikveh. There is a mitzvah to look after an escaped slave, rather than returning him to his idolatrous master. The laws prohibiting the charging of interest on loans are mentioned. A vow made to bring an offering to the Temple must be kept within an allotted time.

A labourer who is harvesting crops is allowed to eat from the crops whilst working, but cannot take any produce home. The laws of divorce are stated.

For the first year of marriage, the couple should prioritise spending time together; the husband is not to serve in the army (other than in a case of pressing national need). When lending money to a poor person, it is forbidden to hold onto security for the loan if this will cause the borrower discomfort.

An employer should pay a hired labourer on the day that the work is done. One must not display bias for or against a widow or a convert. Poor people are entitled to certain leftover crops from the harvest in the field and the vineyard. The mitzvah of yibum (levirate marriage) is detailed – if a man dies childless, a surviving brother should marry the widow, in the hope that they will have children to continue the deceased’s name. If the brother does not wish to marry the widow, he performs a ceremony called chalitzah.

All weights and measures need to be honest and accurate. The sidra ends with the verses that we also read before Purim, on Shabbat Zachor, entreating us to remember how Amalek attacked the Israelites after their departure from Egypt.

Skip to content