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 Reform Judaism 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)
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 Friday, September 15, 2023. This haftarah corresponds to Parashat Shof’tim.
From ETZ HAYIM TORAH AND COMMENTARY
Copyright © 2001 by The Rabbinical Assembly
THE SEVEN HAFTAROT OF CONSOLATION p. 1032
The Seven Haftarot of Consolation follow the Three Haftarot of Admonition (puranuta) that were recited on the three Sabbaths before Tish-ah b’Av. As the synagogue calendar progresses, these 10 haftarah readings are followed by one chosen especially for the Shabbat that precedes Yom Kippur. Thus we have a cycle of special haftarot for this period, each unrelated to the parashah that is read on Shabbat.
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/shoftim
By: Rabbi Talia Avnon-Benveniste
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
For Torah Study, instead of the portion from the Book of Deuteronomy that is read on this Shabbat, we will read Isaiah 51:12-52:12. You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Deuteronomy.16.18-21.9, and the Haftarah at https://www.sefaria.org/Isaiah.51.12-52.12
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
Post-biblical Interpretations – by Susan Marks, pp. 1158-60
A person shall be put to death only on the testimony of two or more witnesses (17:6). Despite the admirable exhortation in this parashah to pursue justice (16:20), post-biblical Judaism restricted women’s participation in the judicial system. In response to the requirement of two witnesses for criminal cases in this verse and 19:15–17, Sifrei D’varim 190 asks, “Is a woman also qualified to give testimony?” Their answer is no, for they note that in 19:15 the Torah states “two witnesses” and further on, in 19:17, “two [men].” Reading these two biblical verses literally, the Rabbis reason: “As the meaning of ‘two’ in the one instance is men and not women, so the meaning of ‘two’ in the other instance is men and not women.” Even earlier, the Jewish historian Josephus (1st century C.E.) asserted that “by Jewish law women are disqualified as witnesses” (Jewish Antiquities 4.219).
However, the Mishnah (Y’vamot 15:1–5 and 16:5) permits a woman to serve as a sole witness in establishing a man’s death, thus allowing his widow to remarry. Since rabbinic courts accepted female testimony in this and some other situations, why were they excluded from most civil and criminal cases? The Rabbis did not give a reason for their general disqualification of women as legal witnesses. Perhaps women’s dependence on their husbands or fathers was understood to compromise their ability to serve as independent witnesses. They could testify only when the two-witness paradigm did not hold. This proved especially important when women might have more access than men to necessary information.
Is there anyone who has paid the bride-price for a wife? (20:7). The groom becomes betrothed (eiras) after he gives a betrothal gift, which is referred to here as a “bride-price.” This implies that the wife is an object acquired by her future husband. (For a different perspective on the institution of betrothal in the Bible, see at Genesis 29:18; Exodus 22:15–16; and Chayei Sarah, Another View, p.127 [Women’s Commentary].) The Rabbis’ use of the term kiddushin for “betrothal” might encourage us to think that women played a more active role in their own betrothals in rabbinic times. Kiddushin is connected to the Hebrew word for “holy,” and “holy” in this context could indicate a relationship recognizing the betrothed woman as more than property. However, rabbinic writings (Tosefta Kiddushin 1:1 and BT Kiddushin 5b) make it clear that a betrothal is legitimate only if a man “acquires” a woman, whether he uses the term m’oresset or m’kuddeshet to assert his claim. Betrothal is not considered valid if a woman speaks or acts as the one changing the couple’s status from single to betrothed.
Like the new house and newly planted vineyard (20:5–6), the betrothed woman (20:7) appears as a partially claimed property for whose full possession a man must take further action. Passages like this indicate that obligations accompanied betrothal (see also 22:23) and imply that some men may not have fulfilled them expeditiously. At any given time, significant numbers of betrothed women may have occupied a limbo state wherein they were already designated as “wife” but not entitled to that status. Although biblical sources are silent about mechanisms for canceling betrothals, the Rabbis insisted on divorce to terminate the betrothed couple’s connection (Mishnah Kiddushin 1:1, 3:7).
Similar views that betrothal was tantamount to marriage are also found in Roman law. The 2nd-century historian Suetonius remarked, “[O]n finding that the spirit of the law was being evaded by betrothal with immature girls…[the Emperor Augustus] shortened the duration of betrothals” (Augustus 34.1–2). While Suetonius is discussing a binding betrothal that some elite men used to their advantage in order to avoid restrictions upon gifts and the higher taxes owed by unmarried men, the biblical example appears to establish the binding nature of betrothal intentionally. In both Jewish and Roman law and practice, a betrothal either led to a marriage or was terminated in some quiet manner.
In general, historians find references to betrothals only where problems have occurred or are envisioned. The present verse discusses one potential difficulty. A non-Jewish example appears in a legal ruling from Emperors Valerian and Gallienus (dated 259 C.E.) concerning a young woman who has been engaged for three years but her fiancé is abroad and unreachable. She would like to end the betrothal but cannot communicate this to him. This young woman’s lawsuit expresses concern that she would be liable to charges of bigamy were she to marry someone else (Judith Evans Grubbs, Law and Family in Late Antiquity, 1995, pp. 167–8). That such cases required resolution suggests that the interval between betrothal and marriage could be problematic in both Jewish and Roman societies. However, the rarity of reference to these cases raises more questions than answers about how betrothals really functioned in ancient Judaism.
HIGH HOLY DAYS
Please watch for emails from Dr. Sam Caron, Congregational President, regarding Temple Kol Hamidbar’s plans this year for observing Rosh Hashanah (evening of Fri, Sep 15 – Sun, Sep 17, 2023) and Yom Kippur (evening of Sun, Sep 24 – Mon, Sep 25, 2023).
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, 2 Elul through 8 Elul, we lovingly remember:
Sister of Jane Kolber
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, August 18, 2023. 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 – Haftarah Shof’tim: Isaiah 51:12-52:12
Time: Aug 18, 2023 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Aug 18, 2023 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 – Gut Shabbos!
PS – About the Book of Isaiah:
From Jewish Encyclopedia
From My Jewish Learning
From Torah.org (includes Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel)
From Wikipedia (refers to Proto-Isaiah, Deutero-Isaiah, Trito-Isaiah)
Timelines from Wikipedia