Our portion begins with a series of scenarios, listing what the God-fearing Israelite must do in each case. The first of these is a situation in which a soldier comes across a beautiful captive during war. If he wishes to take her, he must first allow her to mourn her family for a month, shave her hair and grow her nails. If he still wants her for a wife, he may marry her. Another case involves an unhappy marriage – even if one’s firstborn is the child of the unloved wife, the father must afford that son all the rights of the firstborn and may not transfer those rights to the son of his favorite wife. A rebellious son must be brought before the court and stoned, and the corpse of a man executed by the court may not be left hanging overnight, out of dignity.
If one finds a lost animal or item, one must make every effort to return it to its owner, even if it means keeping it for him until he returns to look for it. One must assist if one sees another person’s animal struggling. Men and women may not wear each other’s clothing and, if one wishes to gather eggs or baby birds from a nest, one must first send away the mother bird. A roof requires a fence, so nobody climbs up and falls off, and different species of crops may not be planted together, while different species of animals may not be made to work together. Finally, fringes must be tied onto the corners of any four-cornered garment.
When it comes to the prohibition of taking an egg without first chasing away the mother bird, the Israel Bible points out that it is just one example of how God commands us to behave with sensitivity and compassion. If this is how we are expected to behave towards animals, how much more so are we required to behave towards each other with caring and concern.
Virtual Classroom Discussion
Why do you think different species may not be grown or worked together?