Parshat Shoftim

"Justice,justice shall you seek!"

“Justice,justice shall you seek!”

Learning Group—Parshat Shoftim

(Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9)

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

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. [17:20] “So that his heart will not be lifted up above his brothers…” Isn’t a king supposed to be above the other people? What is the function of a king who is not above the other people?

4. [Haftara: Yeshaya 52:12] “You will not go out in a rush, or by fleeing…” When the Jews will return from Babylon, they will return in a relaxed way. What is the significance of returning in a relaxed way? Why is this different from the very hasty way that the Israelites left Egypt (Shmot 12:11)?

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?


Elevated tshuvah comes from a flash of goodness—of the Godly goodness that exists in all the worlds, the light of the Eternal, the soul of everything–which spreads out. It takes form in front of us in its splendour and holiness—as much as the heart can absorb.

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

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer


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