Parashat Shoftim (Judges) Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9


Parashat Shoftim (Judges) Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9

Haftarah: Isaiah 51:12-52:12

In this week’s Torah portion, some of the laws concerning the kings of Israel are discussed. Although the king is told several things not to do, the first thing that he is commanded to do is,

And it shall come about as he sits on the throne of his kingdom he shall write for himself a copy (some scholars understand the Hebrew word משנה to imply two copies) of this Torah upon a scroll before the priests and the Levities.”

 Deuteronomy 17:18

Not only were the kings (from David to Tzidkiyahu) who ruled from Jerusalem between 3,000 to 2,500 years ago called to utilize the Torah, but so also will the Messiah during the Millennial Kingdom rule according to the Torah. Whereas the Messiah will know perfectly the Torah, as His earthly life exemplified it, the other kings were expected to learn it. This is why Moses commanded these kings to write the Torah before the priest and the Levites. The purpose for this was so that the king could ask them questions when he came across matters that he did not understand.

It was not enough that the king would simply learn the Torah while he copied it, but the next verse states,

And it shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life so that he will learn to fear HaShem his G-d; to keep all the words of this Torah and these laws to do them.”  Deuteronomy 17:19

When one studies Scripture each day, he will learn how to fear the L-rd. According to the Jewish sages, the fear of the L-rd will manifest the glory of G-d. How will the glory of G-d be manifested? The answer is found at the end of the verse: by doing the commandments. There is no substitution for obedience. Not only will the knowledge of the Torah and obedience to it manifest G-d’s glory, but it will also keep one humble. This is seen in the final verse of the chapter.

It will be impossible for him to have an exalted heart over his brethren…”

Deuteronomy 17:20

One of the most important requirements for being a servant of the L-rd is to be humble in spirit. Although the king had a great responsibility, no matter who you are you have some degree of responsibility. Why not utilize the same wisdom given to the kings in order to faithfully carry out your G-d given call?

Shabbat Shalom

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