by Marilyn Morrison
Parashat Ki Teitzei (“When you go out”) contains a significant portion of the Torah’s laws: no less than 74 mitzvot (out of 613) have been counted as deriving from this parashah.
Building the ideal Israelite society is an overriding concern of this passage. The civil, criminal, and family laws in Deuteronomy address relationships within households, among neighbors, and between the vulnerable in society and those more fortunate. While the laws in Shof’tim, the preceding parashah, address public officials, the laws in this parashah focus on what could be seen as private family matters. The prominence of laws concerning the lesser-loved wife, the punishment of wayward children, and the regulation of sexual behavior indicate that such seemingly private matters concern society as a whole. Public legislation governing these matters demonstrates the concern with building a balanced society in which all individuals are governed by the community and its laws.