Two-Line Torah: Ki Teitzei – Making Promises



August 25, 2017

In this week’s Torah portion, Moses issues several different edicts governing behavior and action concerning relationships—between husband and wife, parent and child, sibling to sibling, owner to worker, neighbor to neighbor, and neighbor to stranger. One of the most compelling pieces in the parsha is the following: “Do not break your promise.”

We must live our lives with the intention of integrity. This isn’t easy – we have many different relationships both in our professional and personal lives. Students are no different. It is easy to let our ambition get the best of us and lead us to make unreasonably large—and sometimes conflicting—promises and commitments. The laws Moses issues have very strict consequences, stoning and exile among them, showing that when we make promises in any situation we have to honor them and take them seriously, as if stoning and exile were the consequence for not following through.

In the last few weeks before our academic year begins, many of us will be meeting with students to learn what their hopes and goals are for a meaningful semester, quarter, or year. It is too tempting to make different and conflicting promises to everyone. I challenge us to remember the edicts Moses issued, and remember that is our responsibility to be a person that can be trusted by their deeds and words. 

Shelby Jirikils, Director of Programming and Ezra Fellow, Hillel at UC Irvine at the Hillel Foundation of Orange County