Posted by: mosesfromsinai | August 4, 2013

Shofteem – Judges

This week’s Torah Reading is called Shofteem – Judges. There are a variety of laws in this Torah Reading including what are the laws connected to an accidental death and what are the laws connected to a premeditated death.

We also find at the end of the Torah Reading the laws connected to the discovery of a murdered body in the field. By way of background these laws were the very laws that Yaakov taught Yoseph just before he was taken by his brothers and sold to Egypt.

What would follow was the Judges would go out and measure what city the body was closest to. This city would then assume responsibility for the murdered body. The elders of the city would then take a young heifer that had not yet been used for work. The animal would be brought to a valley whose land was not workable and the neck would be broken. Thus the name of this section is called Eglah Arufah – The Broken Neck of the Heifer. They would then wash there hands over the animal and say in the presence of the Cohaneem – Priests, that they did not cause or see the death of the murdered individual.

We are told that when we, as a nation, lead a very pure life events like this will not happen. There will not be murdered bodies lying around and murderers walking about. What is further implied is that we will take responsibility for one another and see to it that no harm befalls a person living in our city or leaving our city.

Yoseph then perhaps was sending a message to his father when he sent the wagons being pulled by heifers, that his brothers had not shed his blood. Yaakov had always suspected that his sons had killed their brother out of jealousy. Furthermore, Yoseph was taking responsibility to see that his family would survive and be provided for during this difficult time of severe famine.

When we act as true brothers to one another and take responsibility for each other then there will be no murdered bodies either accidental or premeditated in our cities.


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