Posted by: mosesfromsinai | August 29, 2011

Shofteem – Judges

This week’s Torah Reading begins with the concept of appointing judges and police in all the cities.  The Torah recognizes that in order to preserve a level of civility and stability,  judges and police are required.  This concept is again stressed in Pirkay Avos, that, were it not for the fear of the law, people would ‘devour’ one another.

The Hebrew word used for cities is Shi’arecha (Shin, Iyen, Raish, Yud, Chof Sofeet).  The root is Shi’ar (Shin, Iyen, Raish) which literally means ‘gates’.  The places of entrance require special supervision and enforcement.  (How relevant that is to-day).

The concept of establishing  judges and police at the possible places of entrance relates to the individual as well.  We all have various ‘gates’ of entrance:  Such as; the eyes, the ears, the mouth, the nose, the hands (the 5 senses) as well as other points of entrance.  We each need to set rules for what we will take in and we need to police these rules.  The mouth should avoid obviously the foods the Torah just finished telling us not to eat in the previous Parsha, Ri’aiy.  What we say, hear, see (read) can have a negative impact and these need rules and ‘police’ – Torah and our own individual safeguards.  I must confess it took me a short while to think what crime the nose could commit and then I remembered my 20 years as a Rabbi on the college campuses.  In high school and elementary school they sniffed glue.  ‘Busy’ hands need supervision as well.  Not everything should be ‘touched.’

On the other hand these points of entrance can enrich the individual (with Kosher consumption) and provide the material necessary to be a very productive person in the community.


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