Ki Tetze

The Torah deals with harsh realities: captive women married against their will, hated wives, criminal children. Rashi connects these three unrelated subjects into a causal chain: forced marriages are loveless ones, a child growing up in these circumstances will therefore be Bad. This is classic psychology – “the child is the father of the man” – and has some truth to it. Surroundings and upbringing shape our thoughts and actions almost completely. Almost. Rashi’s approach is simply wrong, though: it’s impossible to live this way. We must believe in responsibility for our actions, in the possibility of change. Repentance, reconciliation, resolutions – all these shatter causal chains, going back in time to change the significance of past events, and retaking control of Now.

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[Inspired by: Deuteronomy 21, and Rashi’s comment on 21:11; Rembrandt’s Reconciliation of David and Absalom.]

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