In this week’s Torah Portion, Ki Teitzei, we continue our journey of exploring our teacher Moshe’s final will in testament to the Jewish people before his death. This parsha claims a title above all the other 54 Torah portions and that is it has the greatest number of mitzvos (commandments) found within. With 74 mitzvos, parshas Ki Teitzei dwarfs its closest competitor (Parshas Emor) by 32%, or 18 mitzvos. The monumental commentary Rashi goes to great lengths to show the juxtapositions of many of these commandments and why Moshe included them where he did, but I want to go more macro.
The Torah has within it 613 mitzvos. These commandments cover varying situations. It is impossible for one person to follow all 613 unless they are both male and female, a Kohen, Levi and Yisroel, married and divorced, live inside and outside the land of Israel, etc. A discussion of the mitzvos should really start with the basic question, “Why do mitzvos?” Does the Almighty really need us to eat a matzah? Does he just love the sound of millions of Jews crunching on tasteless wafers where it is a tossup which one tastes better, the matza or the box? Does he need us to build up his ego by praising Him in prayer?
The truth is, no, the Almighty doesn’t need anything from us. He’s omnipotent, omnipresent and all powerful. He needs and lacks nothing. That being said, he has given us opportunities. Opportunities to connect. Opportunities to build a relationship. Every relationship comes with connection opportunities. Whether its two spouses, a parent and child, friends, or a supervisor and subordinate.
The more we take those opportunities, the stronger the relationship we build and have. Often, there is a difficult dynamic to overcome before we figure out those opportunities. The Almighty made it easy for us. He told Moshe on Sinai that if the Jews want to build a relationship with me, here is how to do it. Here are 613 opportunities to connect. Moshe gave the details of these opportunities to the Jewish people in the desert and reviewed most of them in his final words to the people before his passing.
In this season of self-introspection, let’s all look for those opportunities to connect and take advantage of them.
Rabbi Pinchas Landis is education director of Partners In Torah of Cleveland in University Heights, a suburb of Cleveland.