Parshat ha Shavuah Verses Shoftim / שֹׁפְטִים

People think about different things when their minds drift away from the task at hand. Being super busy now at work, I somehow still always manage to find my way to Israel in my mind.  And today I am missing it so much it hurts.

Maybe one of the reasons is that here, in the US, and specifically, in New York people including my good acquaintances, honest, nice, and caring folks seem to be losing sanity lately not seeing things that for me are as clear as day. I do not want to put any blame anywhere or compare one “camp” to the other. I am trying to distance myself from politics of the day as much as I can now, possibly because I feel that I am too losing a grip since I can no longer cope with all the negativity around. And this is very scary.

It’s written on the wall

We just refuse to see

Take the book and read – the path is outlined

Is it too late for us all?

 

The more I am disappointed in life around me, the more I want to read and study our texts. Yesterday, I got lucky to obtain a few volumes of the Steinsaltz edition of The Talmud. I am hoping to be able to get into it even if only bit by bit even if rarely.

If we would all try to heed the timeless words of today’s Parshah – צֶדֶק צֶדֶק, תִּרְדֹּף!

 

יח  שֹׁפְטִים וְשֹׁטְרִים, תִּתֶּן-לְךָ בְּכָל-שְׁעָרֶיךָ, אֲשֶׁר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לְךָ, לִשְׁבָטֶיךָ; וְשָׁפְטוּ אֶת-הָעָם, מִשְׁפַּט-צֶדֶק.

18 Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, tribe by tribe; and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment.

יט  לֹא-תַטֶּה מִשְׁפָּט, לֹא תַכִּיר פָּנִים; וְלֹא-תִקַּח שֹׁחַד–כִּי הַשֹּׁחַד יְעַוֵּר עֵינֵי חֲכָמִים, וִיסַלֵּף דִּבְרֵי צַדִּיקִם.

19 Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons; neither shalt thou take a gift; for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.

כ  צֶדֶק צֶדֶק, תִּרְדֹּף–לְמַעַן תִּחְיֶה וְיָרַשְׁתָּ אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ.

20 Justice, justice shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

If only we could withhold our tongues from the angry onslaught of any person we do not agree with and be able to at least listen to three witnesses before publicly exposing a person to pain and humiliation!

ו  עַל-פִּי שְׁנַיִם עֵדִים, אוֹ שְׁלֹשָׁה עֵדִים–יוּמַת הַמֵּת:  לֹא יוּמַת, עַל-פִּי עֵד אֶחָד.

6 At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is to die be put to death; at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.

If only our leaders whoever they are – religious, civil, national, etc. could read these words and take them to heart:

יד  כִּי-תָבֹא אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ, וִירִשְׁתָּהּ, וְיָשַׁבְתָּה בָּהּ; וְאָמַרְתָּ, אָשִׂימָה עָלַי מֶלֶךְ, כְּכָל-הַגּוֹיִם, אֲשֶׁר סְבִיבֹתָי.

14 When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein; and shalt say: ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are round about me’;

טו  שׂוֹם תָּשִׂים עָלֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ, אֲשֶׁר יִבְחַר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בּוֹ:  מִקֶּרֶב אַחֶיךָ, תָּשִׂים עָלֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ–לֹא תוּכַל לָתֵת עָלֶיךָ אִישׁ נָכְרִי, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-אָחִיךָ הוּא.

15 thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose; one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee; thou mayest not put a foreigner over thee, who is not thy brother.

טז  רַק, לֹא-יַרְבֶּה-לּוֹ סוּסִים, וְלֹא-יָשִׁיב אֶת-הָעָם מִצְרַיְמָה, לְמַעַן הַרְבּוֹת סוּס; וַיהוָה, אָמַר לָכֶם, לֹא תֹסִפוּן לָשׁוּב בַּדֶּרֶךְ הַזֶּה, עוֹד.

16 Only he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses; forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you: ‘Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.’

יז  וְלֹא יַרְבֶּה-לּוֹ נָשִׁים, וְלֹא יָסוּר לְבָבוֹ; וְכֶסֶף וְזָהָב, לֹא יַרְבֶּה-לּוֹ מְאֹד.

17 Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away; neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.

יח  וְהָיָה כְשִׁבְתּוֹ, עַל כִּסֵּא מַמְלַכְתּוֹ–וְכָתַב לוֹ אֶת-מִשְׁנֵה הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת, עַל-סֵפֶר, מִלִּפְנֵי, הַכֹּהֲנִים הַלְוִיִּם.

18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book, out of that which is before the priests the Levites.

יט  וְהָיְתָה עִמּוֹ, וְקָרָא בוֹ כָּל-יְמֵי חַיָּיו–לְמַעַן יִלְמַד, לְיִרְאָה אֶת-יְהוָה אֱלֹהָיו, לִשְׁמֹר אֶת-כָּל-דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת וְאֶת-הַחֻקִּים הָאֵלֶּה, לַעֲשֹׂתָם.

19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them;

כ  לְבִלְתִּי רוּם-לְבָבוֹ מֵאֶחָיו, וּלְבִלְתִּי סוּר מִן-הַמִּצְוָה יָמִין וּשְׂמֹאול–לְמַעַן יַאֲרִיךְ יָמִים עַל-מַמְלַכְתּוֹ הוּא וּבָנָיו, בְּקֶרֶב יִשְׂרָאֵל.

20 that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left; to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children, in the midst of Israel.

 

If only each one of us, having achieved a bit more than some others would not lift up his/her heart “up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left”.

Today, when leaders of all kinds are so far from these words, and the masses of people are ready to tear each other to pieces in the name of liberty, tolerance, compassion, and love, is it not time for all of us to stop and re-read these texts over and over and over again?

I remember my daughter when in Middle School wrote a rap-like poem that started with

“Stop this madness, it ain’t right”

Today, I am ready to scream these words.

Please, let us try to be at least civil to each other. I am not even asking for more at this point.

Wishing you all a peaceful Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom!

 

One Comment Add yours

  1. This is one of my favorite Torah portions, and I agree with your sentiment about the current culture– I too have been “hiding” in Jewish texts. Your lovely pictures made me miss Israel too!! It’d be SO NICE to spend a leisurely afternoon strolling around the neighborhood and park between Montefiore’s Windmill and the Old City!! Shabbat shalom, jen

    Liked by 1 person

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