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16/17 September: Parsha Ki Tetse

Shabbat comes in at 6.59 pm; goes out at 7.58 pm                        _____________________________________________________                

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Parshat Ki Tetze contains an interesting human rights law.   Deut. 21:22 states,  “If a man is guilty of a capital offense and is put to death, and you impale him on a stake, you must not let the corpse remain on the stake overnight, but must bury him the same day.  For an impaled body is an affront to God . . . ”

Many nations of the world had a policy of displaying slain enemies and executed criminals in order to scare others.   However, Rashi (11th century commentator) explains that to leave a person in such a state is tantamount to degrading God,  since every person is created in the Divine image of God.  Rashi explains his point by way of a parable. :

”Once there was a set of twins who closely resembled each other.  One became king and the other was arrested for robbery and was hanged.  Whoever saw him on the gallows thought that the king was hanged.”

Displaying the body of the executed criminal overnight might dissuade other criminals but all humans beings, no matter what crime they have committed are created in the likeness of God, and that must always be protected.

 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Paul Arberman

September 14, 2016