SHOFTIM PARSHA FRAMED 18 X 24
BOOK OF DEUTERONOMY
Devarim (Deuteronomy) In this final book of Torah, Moses reviews much of the history and the laws given to the Jewish people: hence the Greek name, (taken from phrase 'Mishneh Torah', Deut. 17:18) meaning second telling. In Deuteronomy, the belief that following God's rules will bring blessing; while spurning God will result in calamity is stressed. Idolatry and other false practices are continually denounced. Many scholars identify Deuteronomy with the book of Teaching found by Hilkiah the High Priest (during the reign of King Josiah- II Kings 22:8) during the reforms the king was instituting to strengthen Israel and its religion. There are thirty-four chapters, divided into eleven parashiyot. The parashiyot of Devarim are: Devarim, Va'Etchanan, Ekev, Re'eh, Shoftim, Ki Tetze, Ki Tavo, Nitzavim, VaYelech, Ha'azinu, and Zot HaBrachah
Shoftim: Whether we live in Israel or not, we must consider our relationship to Zion in our lives as Jews.
The Hebrew word shoftim - meaning 'judges' or 'magistrates' - defines the theme of this important portion. Issues of jurisprudence and social ethics predominate, including guidelines for judges and courts of law, elders, kings, prophets, and priests, all of who have a role in maintaining a just society. Right up front, the text identifies the most important characteristic of a judge: the ability to remain impartial and objective. The shofet must not play favourites and must always resist bribes and other forms of influence.The Torah again prohibits any forms of idolatrous practices, which are seen as the greatest perversion of God's justice. The notion of a Monarch is discussed as a possibility when entering into the Promised Land. The Israelites can only appoint a King who has been selected by God, and the King must have an unyielding commitment to God, Torah, and the people of Israel. He too must not be distracted by material wealth or foreign influence, which might cloud his judgement.Moses next addresses the Levites and emphasizes their special place among the people. The have both privilege and responsibility. Moses then turns from the priests to the notion of prophecy, and discusses how to distinguish between a true prophet and a false prophet. No other forms of divination or sorcery can be used to determine God's will, and all false prophets and methods of divination must be wiped out. Cities of refuge and the importance of proper witnesses are discussed. The parasha ends with a discussion of proper approaches to warfare. Justice is to be maintained at all times, even times of war.
Copyright: Kolel, The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning.
These summaries and introductions are used with permission of Kolel: The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning in Toronto, Canada. Kolel is a dynamic, pluralistic, egalitarian institution where men and women engage in Jewish learning which values both traditional and liberal interpretations. Kolel is a gateway into a richer expression of Judaism for each individual, wherever their journey of Jewish discovery may take them.
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