We are now well and truly in the month of Elul and looking forward to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. New Year means New Year’s resolutions. Psychologically people think of New Year as a new beginning, a fresh start. We as Jews are lucky as we get to make two sets of New Year’s resolutions, one now and one in January. Understanding psychology is at the forefront of this week’s Parsha. The Torah was given by G-d Himself the creator of all mankind. Therefore, it is little wonder that several of the commandments in this week’s Parsha have deep human psychological understanding at their core.
Let us start with the ‘Yfat Toar’ lit ‘beautiful woman’. This is the allowance for Jewish men to take a non-Jewish woman during wartime prior to her conversion and marriage rituals. Our Rabbis tell us that if G-d didn’t allow this to happen people would have done so anyway. This is because the Jewish men were shielded from temptation in the desert studying Torah with Moses all day. Once these men were exposed to the aggressive nature of war with all the testosterone flowing they would become more tempted. By allowing this Mitzvah to take place G-d is demonstrating He understands human nature. It is important to note that these women had to be treated with the utmost respect and had to be married and could not just be given away.
Let’s move on to the second commandment, not to overlook a firstborn child from a wife you fell out with when it comes to inheritance. The Torah understands that inheritance has the power to rip families apart. The fact that you fell out with his mother should have no bearing on your relationship with your children. Each child is amazing and unique and deserves to be loved and treasured unconditionally.
The last commandment I would like to discuss is the allowance for vineyard workers to eat some fruit as they are working. Here too the Torah acknowledges the temptation placed before workers. The aromatic fragrance of the fruit, the sight of beautiful fruit is too much to put up with so Hashem allows you to eat.
Now that we have seen that G-d is understanding of human nature and psychology we can appreciate that even though we don’t know why we have to keep the Mitzvot, they are all for our benefit. He will not tax us more than we can bear. The coronavirus pandemic has tested our resolve and abilities to the core. However, so much positivity and goodness has come out of it on a communal level. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone at the Federation for all their amazing hard work and efforts during this trying time