Thursday, August 12, 2010

Parashat Shoftim - פרשת שופטים

Photo: Miriam Woelke


This Shabbat is definitely getting a little more spiritual because I am going up to Safed tomorrow. A small town in northern Israel, very famous for its Kabbalists from the 16th century.

When I started reading some chassidic commentaries on Parashat SHOFTIM, I already got stuck at the very first sentence. Chassidic commentators see a deeper meaning in the Torah Mitzvah of appointing judges (Shoftim) and guards / policemen (Shotrim). Parashat Shoftim always falls into Elul and, as we know, Elul is the Jewish month of doing Teshuva. Return to G - d or at least try to do so right before the Jewish New Year Rosh HaShana.

Rashi interprets the Mitzvah of appointing judges and placing them at every gate of a city literally. This is right but all Mitzvot always include a deeper level shown to us through the Kabbalah and Chassidut.

"Schoftim ve Schotrim Titen Lecha be'kol Schearecha …"

Take for yourself judges and policemen and put them at every gate (of a city). The sentence includes the word "LECHA - For YOU, To Yourself".

The Torah commentator MAGEN AVRAHAM writes that a human being was created on a higher level as everything else in the creation process. We have the ability of being spiritual and reaching higher levels whereas an animal always follows its instinct. A cat is not striving for a higher spiritual level but for good food and a place to rest.
G - d provided us with wisdom (Chochmah) which we should use.
Use your wisdom and refrain from sinning. We are asked to judge ourselves on a personal level. What did I do wrong and how can I make it better in the future ?

Rabbi Zaddok HaCohen of Lublin writes in his commentary "Pri Zaddik": It is not only the appointed judge judging me but the commandment has a personal meaning to each of us. I have to be my own judge as well. In order to get closer to G - d I need "Yirat Shamaim - Respect before G - d". There is no use in Torah study when I don't accept and respect G - d but study only in order to get a reputation.

Rabbi Yitzchak Luria stated that every Jew has to rectify his own GATES (Shearim). How about my senses ? How am I using them ? How am I using my eyesight ? Do I look at positive things or am I using everything for the bad ? I think that each of us can judge himself very well because we know our weaknesses.

Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman HaLevi Epstein writes in his famous commentary "Maor veSchemesh":
Watch what you are doing. Watch you actions as well of you thoughts. Try concentrating on the good and try doing good instead of following negative thoughts.

"Shabbat Shalom - Gut Schabbes" to all readers !

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