We are nearing the end of our year-long Torah reading cycle. We started in Genesis last October. And over the last ten months we have worked our way through Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and now we only have about 12 chapters left in Deuteronomy.
This week’s Torah portion covers Deuteronomy 21:10 to 25:19. The entire section reads like a long list of instructions for once the Israelites enter the land. There are over 70 miscellaneous precepts in the four and a half chapters. That puts this week’s portion in first place for the highest number of commands in any weekly reading.
The structure of the laws listed seems to be random. As you read, the text jumps from rules of war to family inheritance to animal rights to marriage laws. A significant percentage of the laws relate to the upstart nation’s public health policies, agricultural standards, and financial guidelines. However, there are some laws that clearly are calling the Israelite nation to a much higher ethical order than any of the other ancient peoples. It is these laws that I find extra intriguing.