Parshas Ki Setzei
“And you shall see a woman of beautiful form amongst the captives, and you will desire her and take her for yourself as a wife.” (Devarim 22:11)
It is a positive commandment to conduct oneself with this woman of beautiful form according to the details of the commandment delineated in this chapter. The idea of the commandment is that it is the way of the nations that their daughters beautify themselves at times of war so that if the enemies defeat them they will not kill these ladies and will instead take them to marry as wives. Because of this, the Torah says that one who sees a woman who he considers to be beautiful amongst the captives, he is allowed to take her and to bring her to his house. She must then shave her head and grow her nails, remove the beautiful clothes which she had donned for the war, and he must allow her to cry for her father and mother for thirty days.
Amongst the laws of this commandment are that which Chazal said that the Torah only permitted this beautiful captive woman because of the evil inclination, as if the Torah would not have permitted her the person would have married her illicitly because of the power of the desire of the heart of the person. It is for this reason that the Torah commanded us to conduct ourselves in the aforementioned manner, so that the man will of his own accord come to despise her. The method that the Torah tries to achieve this is by obligating her to shave her head so that the beautiful form of her hair is destroyed and growing her fingernails to spoil the form of her hands and by allowing her to cry for a month to make her face ugly and her eyes red from the crying, and the Torah obligates him to live in the same house as her while she is doing all of these things for the first month, so that he enters and exits and sees her all the time so that she will be despised in his eyes.
Amongst the laws of this commandment are that which Chazal said that one is allowed to take only one woman and not two and that he should not pressure her during the battle but should set aside a room for her. She must also convert to Judaism before he can marry her, and after the conversion if he still wants to marry her he must marry with a Kesubah (marriage contract) and Kiddushin and she has all of the laws of a regular Jewish woman. If she became pregnant from him before she converted the child is not Jewish and is not considered to be his son at all, as Chazal say that “Your son from a non-Jewish woman is not your son, but hers”. Tamar the sister of Avshalom, was the daughter of such a woman who became pregnant before converting, whereas Avshalom was born after the marriage. It follows that she was only the sister of Avshalom on the mother’s side, and she was therefore permitted to marry Amnon as she herself said to Amnon, “Speak now to the King for he will not withhold me from you!”.
This commandment applies when Klal Yisrael are on their land, as then they had the permission and ability to fight. One who does not keep these laws, has transgressed these laws.