KETIVAH VECHATIMA TOVAH – A GOOD WRITING AND SEALING!
- Of David. The Eternal One is my light and my help;
whom should I fear?
The Eternal One is the stronghold of my life,
whom should I dread?
- When evil men assail me to devour my flesh—
it is they, my foes and my enemies, who stumble and fall.
- Should an army besiege me, my heart would have no fear;
should war beset me, still would I be confident.
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/shoftim
Shof’tim [שֹׁפְטִים – Hebrew for “judges”]
You shall appoint magistrates and officials for your tribes, in all the settlements that the Eternal your God is giving you, and they shall govern the people with due justice. – Deuteronomy 16:18
- Laws regarding both sacred and secular legislation are addressed. The Israelites are told that in every dealing they should pursue justice in order to merit the land that God is giving them. (16:18–18:8)
- The people are warned to avoid sorcery and witchcraft, the abhorrent practices of their idolatrous neighbors. (18:9–22)
- God tells them that should an Israelite unintentionally kill another, he may take sanctuary in any of three designated cities of refuge. (19:1–13)
- Laws to be followed during times of peace and times of war are set forth. (19:14–21:9)
Isaiah 51:12-52:12 is the fourth haftarah in the cycle of seven haftarot of consolation after Tisha B’Av, leading up to the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which this year begins the evening of Sunday, September 25, 2022.
HIGH HOLY DAYS
Given the uncertainty of the current pandemic, concern for the wellbeing of our highly at-risk members, and the excellent online resources available from other congregations, Temple Kol Hamidbar is NOT holding Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Services this year. However, we will meet online for Shabbat Shuvah, September 30, 2022. We will also recommend some quality Zoom High Holy Day services available in our time zone.
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/shoftim
By: Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin [Senior Rabbi, Temple Sinai, Oakland CA]
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Deuteronomy.16.18-21.9
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
שפטים Shof’tim – Deuteronomy 16:18–21:9
Law and Order by Adele Berlin, p. 1141
PARASHAT SHOF’TIM (“magistrates”) continues Moses’ speech in which he delineates various legal teachings for Israel. This portion focuses on the organization of the community and the promulgation of rules to promote justice within it. Although the logic behind the order of laws in the Bible is not always apparent, in this parashah we can see the relationship between many of the sections. These laws tend to be of a practical nature–for the Bible rarely theorizes or philosophizes. Yet taken together, they draw a picture of the type of ideal society that Deuteronomy envisions. In such a community, justice functions as the operative principle; and all individuals, even the king, come under its rules. Every member of society is entitled to the same justice, in both religious and civil matters. (These two areas of life were not distinguished in ancient times as they are today.) While mainly concerned with the internal workings of the community, justice also applies to the conduct of war. Along with the idea that people deserve a fair government, Deuteronomy expresses the even more important idea that the failure to perform justice constitutes a failure to heed God’s commandments, which endangers the future of Israel.
Deuteronomy does not, for the most part, envision women serving as public officials and certainly not as priests or soldiers. However, women figure in a number of laws, especially in the following parashah (Ki Teitzei). Most of the laws are phrased in the grammatical masculine (the linguistically unmarked term that often includes both genders); but in some cases, to emphasize that the legislation concerns women and men, the text explicitly addresses both genders. For example, 17:2–5 stipulates that “the man or the woman” who engages in idolatrous worship will be put to death. Although the laws in Deuteronomy do not consider women to be the responsible party in their own right in all matters, they are protected when they might be victims and prosecuted when they are guilty of crimes.
Another View – by Nili Wazana, p. 1158
DEUTERONOMY CONTAINS the only ancient Near Eastern legal corpus that extensively treats the question of correct wartime behavior. Parashat Shof’tim introduces the first group of regulations (20:1–9, 10–18, 19–20); the rest are scattered throughout the next parashah (21:10–14; 23:10–15; 24:5). Curiously, these regulations are not what one might expect from a collection of laws related to warfare. They are not concerned with strategic issues typical of warfare, like mustering the army, logistics, or battle tactics. Instead, the military regulations in our parashah deal with the peripheral aspects of war, particularly with those affected by it: women and children, cattle, trees, and even members of the attacking side.
The first, and therefore most prominent, rule defines those conscripts who are released from war (20:5–7): men who have built a new house, planted a vineyard, or given a betrothal gift, but they have not yet benefited from these three types of investments. The reason given is “lest he die in battle” and another person profit. This rationale echoes the curse familiar from ancient Near Eastern treaties: you will labor, but someone else will eat the fruit of your toil. It is noteworthy that in 28:30, precisely the three cases in our parashah are turned into curses. Thus, rather than glorify warfare, Deuteronomy views it as a curse that needs curbing, even for the attacking side.
Similar to the stipulations in our parashah pertaining to the establishment of a monarchy (17:14–20), these rules of war reflect a subversive criticism of a key element prevalent in ancient societies: in this case, wars of expansion inaugurated by the Neo-Assyrian empire in the 8th to 7th centuries B.C.E. Therefore, Deuteronomy’s rules of warfare can be understood as an ideological polemic related to the military and political pressures that Israel and Judah experienced at the time.
We see, then, that the attitude toward warfare in our parashah is a learned reaction to wars forced upon the small nations at that time. Criticizing military acts implicitly and indirectly reveals the viewpoint of the Israelite underdogs, the victims of such actions.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of abuse, brutality, conflicts, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds especially directed at individuals and specific communities including us, and war; for all those at home alone or lonely; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, conflict, disease, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds, and war.
This coming week, the 7th of Elul through the 13th of Elul, we lovingly remember:
Friend of Dr. Sam and Mary Caron
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, September 2, 2022. During Elul, Mary Caron will sound the Shofar before the start of Shazoom.
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – Shof’tim (triennial part) Deut. 19:14-21:9
Time: Sep 2, 2022 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Sep 2, 2022 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Ketivah Vechatima Tovah – A Good Writing and Sealing!
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!