Parshat Ki Tetzei
This week's parsha contains 74 of the Torah's 613 commandments, some troubling from a modern perspective (how a man may ultimately marry a beautiful prisoner of war); others oddly obscure, at least on the surface (you must send away a mother bird from her nest before taking the eggs of her young). And then there are those that are timeless: treating debtors with dignity; keeping your vows. Shabbat Mom has never actually worn the beautiful pomegranate-studded Tallit (prayer shawl) bought years ago in Jerusalem. But she trots it out to represent the commandment that men must wear one (some women, Shabbat Mom not among them, choose to do so):
"You shall make yourself twisted threads, on the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself...".
It's a powerful example of the strength and beauty of Jewish mindfulness, the underlying requirement to be humbled by and aware of G-d and His laws in all ways and at all times. Ki Tetzei ends with a dramatic message about the significance of our collective Jewish memory. Though the words relate specifically to a Biblical event--the devastating attack by the Amalekites on the weakest Israelites wandering in the desert--they resonate across the centuries in a profoundly urgent and relevant way, warning and reminding us that we must never forget our shared past. "You shall remember what Amalek did to you on the way, when you went out of Egypt...You shall not forget!"