Written by 8th grader Max Schorvitz, who will become a Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat.
Seventy-four of the Torah’s 613 mitzvot are in Parashat Ki Teitzei. These include the laws of the inheritance, rights of the firstborn, the wayward and rebellious son, the burial of the dead, returning a lost object, sending away the mother bird before taking her young, the duty to erect a safety fence around the roof of one’s home, and the various forms of forbidden plants and animal hybrids.
This Parasha also includes laws governing the military camp; the prohibition against turning in an escaped slave, the obligation to pay a worker on time, allowing anyone working for you to eat on the job, the proper treatment of a debtor, and the prohibition against charging interest on a loan; the laws of divorce.
These are the mitzvot that we, as Jews, are to live by each day. They teach us morality, compassion, justice and humility. These mitzvot are not there just as laws we are obligated to follow but as a guide to help us live our lives in a righteous manner. We need to understand these mitzvot and figure out how to apply them to our own lives.
For example, a person is obligated to “send away the mother bird before taking her young.” This means that although we may take what we need to sustain ourselves, we cannot take without the consideration to others. We need to ensure we do not inflict any unnecessary pain.
Another example is, “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.” This explains how it would be cruel to expect the same thing from two very different creatures.
As I become a Bar Mitzvah, I will take these mitzvot to heart. I will remember them and try to apply them to my everyday life.