(Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9)

(Haftara: Isaiah 51:12-52:12)

(Pirkay Avot: Chapter 6)

1. [16:18] “…and they will judge the people with justice…”  Rav Kuk tells us that one must be very attached to justice in order to be attached to the “soul of Israel”. Why is justice a more basic value for us than kindness or other values?

2. [17:14] “..and  you will say, “I will put over myself a king like all the  nations…” Some of our rabbis tell us that this is optional and others say that we must set up a king. What might be the reasons for each opinion?

3. [Isaiah 51:16] “I have put my words in your mouth…so that I will plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth…” How can words in the mouth of the prophet plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth?

4. [Pirkay Avot 6:6] “The Torah is acquired in 48 ways…through joy…”      One of the qualities necessary for acquiring Torah is joy. However, the Torah way of life includes activities that don’t seem joyful—like personal discipline and fighting evil. How can one be joyful while doing those activities?

5. [Month of Elul] We are now in the month of Elul—the month of tshuvah before Rosh Hashana.  It has been said that the idea that one can erase one’s sins by regretting them and making tshuvah is not a logical idea. It is a special kindness from Heaven. How is the idea that one can erase one’s sins through tshuvah not logical?

Commentary

The inner spiritual work has to do with organizing one’s thoughts—which is the essence of a life of focus or meditation—and organizing one’s emotions–which is a life of song and poetry. One must work on the relationship of these qualities so that they can work together in the ways in which they are best balanced with each other, and also work separately.

–R. Avraham Y. H. Kuk, 1865-1935, Lithuania and Israel

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker

And to the memory of Sarah Beila Kummer bat Yitzchak and Chana, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer