The majority of Sefer Devarim is Moshe giving over his last words of direction to Bnei Yisrael before they enter Eretz Yisrael. As he would not be entering with them, it was important to Moshe to give over whatever guidance he could before the nation set out on their own. To that end, the majority of the laws given over in this sefer deal with matters on a national level. The justice system, guidelines of leadership, laws of business, our relationship with Hashem, spiritual guidance and direction; these are all matters discussed throughout these parshiyos. However, there are a few laws that seem to have slipped through this filter.
Included in this week’s parsha, Ki Seitzei, are several halachos pertaining to marriage, divorce, which relationships are permitted by the Torah and the halachic status of any offspring that may come from those relationships. These halachos seem to affect only the few people who are involved in the relationship, so why does Moshe discuss them here, in the middle of imparting vital information necessary for the entire nation to understand? Furthermore, there is an entire section in Sefer Vayikra dedicated to the laws of illicit relationships; why wouldn’t these halachos be included there as well?
Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetzky explains that the pesukim clearly teach us that a marriage is not just a celebration for the new couple and their families, it’s something which affects the entire nation. When discussing certain people who for various reasons are not allowed to marry Jewish girls, the Torah uses the phrase, “לֹֽא־יָבֹ֧א בִּקְהַ֥ל ה' ”, “They should not enter the congregation of Hashem” (See examples in Devarim 23:2-4). Chazal refer to these people as “פסולי קהל”, those that are disqualified from becoming part of the Jewish congregation. They are allowed to become part of the Jewish People, some of them are born Jews, but they can’t enter the congregation.
Even if you are already Jewish, there is some aspect of being able to marry another Jew that allows you to be a part of larger national affairs. This doesn’t mean that a Jew who is not married is not part of the congregation, since they have the ability to marry another Jew they certainly are! It’s those who are unable to marry a Jew who can never be considered part of the קהל. When a couple marries, this potential is actualized and they become an official part of the קהל of Bnei Yisrael. This is a celebration for the entire nation!
Therefore, these halachos have their proper place here in Sefer Devarim. These are halachos that affect the good of the entire people and will affect the decisions and thought process of the leaders; their proper place is here, not in Sefer Vayikra.
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