The Responsibility of Holding Office

The Responsibility of Holding Office

Sep 10, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Shofetim

Rabbi Hananiah, the Deputy High Priest, taught: “Pray for the welfare of the government, for if people did not fear it, they would swallow each other alive” (Pirkei Avot 3:2, trans. Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals, 264).

Read More
Worthy Judges

Worthy Judges

Sep 10, 2005 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Shofetim

This week opened with the mournful news of the passing of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. While we subscribe to a wide spectrum of views with regard to his decisions, he was undoubtedly a brilliant legal mind. Of his leadership on the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted, “Chief Justice William Rehnquist was the fairest, most efficient boss I have ever had . . . he cautioned that a judge steps out of the proper judicial role most conspicuously and dangerously when the judge flinches from a decision that is legally right because the bottom line is not the one ‘the home crowd wants.’ I hold him in highest regard and affection and will miss him greatly.” Justice Ginsburg’s tribute to Chief Justice Rehnquist speaks volumes about the extent to which a judge must be fiercely deliberate, independent, and fair in his or her decisions. Truly, we have lost a leader in that respect.

Read More
The Good Old Days?

The Good Old Days?

Aug 21, 2004 By JTS Alumni | Commentary | Shofetim

By Rabbi Allan Schranz

Many of us have a tendency to wax eloquent about the past while deprecating the present. We tend to use dismissive statements like, “when I was a kid, children read so much more,” or “the summers were brighter and less humid then” and “people had better manners back then.” Such sentiments are common. But in truth, the good old days seem to get better the further away they are.

Read More
A Torah of Humility

A Torah of Humility

Aug 21, 2004 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Shofetim

Tension is the home in which Jewish history has thrived. Prior to and with the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the clarion call of Zionism declared that the Jewish people must become “a nation as all other nations.” While the Zionist argument represents a plea for normalcy and acceptance within the international community, it also seems to reject the classical notion of Jewish chosenness – that the Jews are a chosen and unique people. How is it possible to reconcile this contradiction between the Zionist dream and the traditional understanding of the Jewish polity?

Read More
Judging Ourselves

Judging Ourselves

Aug 30, 2003 By Lauren Eichler Berkun | Commentary | Shofetim | Rosh Hashanah

As we enter the month of Elul, the period of spiritual preparation for the High Holidays, it is fitting that we read Parashat Shofetim. The word Shofetim means “judges.” This Torah portion is dedicated to the establishment of a judicial system in the Holy Land. In our communities today, we are counting down to the “Day of Judgment,” Yom HaDin.

Read More
Leaving Egypt

Leaving Egypt

Aug 30, 2003 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Shofetim

Several weeks ago, a book review in the New York Times caught my attention. Janet Maslin, reviewing The Known World by Edward Jones wrote: “Mr. Jones explores the unsettling, contradiction-prone world of a Virginia slaveholder who happens to be black.” (NYT, August 14, 2003).

Read More
God’s Presence in the Mundane

God’s Presence in the Mundane

Aug 17, 2002 By Lauren Eichler Berkun | Commentary | Shofetim

One of the great contributions of the Rabbinic period to Jewish theology is the celebration of God’s presence in the mundane. How can we experience God in the world without God’s sacred abode in the Temple? The rabbis taught us to find holiness in the everyday through the beautiful system of blessings.

Read More
Moving Society, and Ourselves, Forward

Moving Society, and Ourselves, Forward

Aug 10, 2002 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Shofetim

Parashat Shofetim is central to the entire Torah — “justice, justice you shall pursue” (Deut. 16:20). With these words, our parashah concerns itself with the appointment of magistrates and officials, the establishment of a court system free from impartiality and impropriety, the founding of cities of refuge, the delineation of laws concerning warfare, and communal responsibility in the case of an unsolved murder. Indeed, Shofetim seeks to move society forward — away from the slavery that defined Israelite existence in the land of Egypt. For with freedom comes responsibility.

Read More
Shofetim

Shofetim

Jan 1, 1980

18 You shall appoint magistrates and officials for your tribes, in all the settlements that the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall govern the people with due justice

Read More
Shofetim

Shofetim

Jan 1, 1980

12 I, I am He who comforts you!
What ails you that you fear
Man who must die,
Mortals who fare like grass?

Read More
Reset Search

SUBSCRIBE TO TORAH FROM JTS

Our regular commentaries and videos are a great way to stay intellectually and spiritually engaged with Jewish thought and wisdom.