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In Melbourne Shabbat begins Fri 25 Aug 2017 05:34 PM and ends Sat 26 Aug 2017 06:35 PM

Parshat Shoftim Summary

בס׳ד
ל' אב ה' אלפים תשס"ט

Parshat Shoftim
 
Summary
 
Moshe continues instructing Bnei Yishrael (the people of Israel) on what Hashem wants them to do when they enter the Land of Israel. Many commandments are included in this week's Parsha including appointing Shoftim (judges) and V'Shotrim (ie law-enforcement officers - Police) in every city to administer justice without corruption or favoritism. Crimes and evidence must be thoroughly investigated and a minimum of two credible witnesses is required for conviction and punishment.

The Parshah also includes prohibitions against idolatry and sorcery ('you shall not follow the abominations of those nations and seek an astrologer, a scoreror); laws concerning the obligations and behavior of a king (ie not to have too much gold or silver, horses or wives; to write two Sefer Torahs and always have one at his side; to be humble); directions on creating "cities of refuge" for inadvertent murderer/s; exemption from battle for one who has just married, built a home, planted a vineyard or is "afraid and soft-hearted"; the requirement to offer terms of peace before attacking a city; prohibition against wantonly destroying something of value.
 
The Parshah concludes with the law of 'Eglah Arufah' - a special procedure to be followed when a person is killed by an unknown murderer and his body is found in a field. The responsibility of the community and its leaders for such an event and actions required to atone for this ie perhaps they did not do enough to make the deceased person feel welcome in their city thereby possibly preventing this tragic event.
 
 Aliyah Summary

Note: The Shabbat Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person "goes up" to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.

1st and 2nd Aliyot: The commandment to appoint judges in every city of Israel. These judges are instructed to judge fairly and impratially, not to take a bribe etc. Capital punishment is prescribed for idolatry, and various idolatrous practices are banned. The sacrifices we offer to G‑d must be blemishless. The commandment to follow the rulings of the Sanhedrin, the Rabbinic Supreme Court, and the Oral Law. Refusal to accept the Sanhedrin's authority is a capital offence.

Idolatrous practices must be eradicated and punished. Idol worship represents the greatest perversion of justice by replacing divine justice with human failings and desires.

The Sanhedrin is our direct link with divine intent, and as stated in Pasuk 17:11, we view the rulings and interpretations of the Supreme Court as G-dly directives.

The King of Israel is selected for his unyielding commitment to G-d, Torah, and the people. The requirement to write his own Sefer Torah and carry it with him at all times, to be humble and follow Hashem's law.

3rd and 4th Aliyot: Moshe again addressed the place of the tribe of Levi,reemphasizing the care and attention due to them by the rest of the nation. They are our teachers. Without their instruction we will neither understand or be able to properly apply justice.

5th Aliya: We are commanded to obey these prophets. This section prescribes the punishments for non-compliance with prophets' words, as well as for an individual who falsely claims to speak in G‑d's name. This aliyah then reiterates the command to establish cities of refuge for the inadvertent murderer. Moshe commands the Jews to designate six such cities, and when G‑d expands the borders of the land (with the coming of Moshiach) to add another three cities of refuge.

6th, and 7th Aliyot: The end of Parshas Shoftim discusses both proper and falsewitnesses, as well as the Torah's approach to warfare - make peace overtures, not to wantonly destroy fruit trees thereby maintain some degree of perspective in battle.

The Parsha reading concludes with the communal responsibility for the unsolved murders and the ceremony performed actions that leaders of the city take.

 Haftorah Summary Isaiah 51:12 -52:12

This week's haftorah is the fourth of a series of seven "Haftarot of Consolation." These seven haftarot commence on the Shabbat following Tisha b'Av and continue until Rosh Hashanah.

The haftorahs of the past two weeks open with Israel's complaint that they have been abandoned by G-d. Israel is not content with consolations offered by the prophets -- instead they demand that G-d alone comfort them. In response, this week's haftorah begins with G‑d's response: "I, indeed I, will comfort you."

After briefly reprimanding Israel for forgetting their Creator for fear of human and finite oppressors, the prophet describes the suffering and tribulations which Israel has endured. However, the time has arrived for the suffering to end.

The time has come for Israel's oppressors to drink the "cup of suffering" which they had hitherto forced Israel to drink: "Awaken, awaken, put on your strength, O Zion; put on the garments of your beauty, Jerusalem the Holy City, for no longer shall the uncircumcised or the unclean continue to enter you. Shake yourselves from the dust, arise, sit down, O Jerusalem; free yourself of the bands of your neck, O captive daughter of Zion."

Isaiah extols the beauty of the messenger who will announce the good tidings of Redemption. "Burst out in song, sing together, O ruins of Jerusalem, for the L-rd has consoled His people; He has redeemed Jerusalem" and  coming of Eliyahu Hanavi who will herald the arrival of Mashiach and the rebuilding of Yeruyshalayim. "How beautiful are the feet of the herald on the mountains announcing peace, heralding good tidings, announcing salvation...".

The redemption soon to come is the greatest consolation that G-d can offer us.


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