From The Rabbi’s Study… Shabbat August 13, 2020/5 Elul 5781
Torah: Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9) Haftarah: (Isaiah 51:12-52:12)
Rosh Chodesh Elul was on Monday and the sounding of the Shofar begins during each mornings prayer service * Shofar is Not Blown on Shabbat.
Shoftim/Judges is the Torah portion of this Shabbat. It contains the government, its judiciary system, the king, the priests and Levites. The following parchot are about false prophets, criminal law, laws on warfare and laws pertaining to unsolved murders.
One concept of Judaism is that All share in society’s guilt. Deuteronomy 21:7 states, “Our hands have not shed blood.” This passage deals with the biblical rite of expiation for an unsolved murder. The elders in the city nearest the scene of the slaying cooperate in the ritual cleansing of the red heifer, and they recite these words declaring their innocence. The commentator Malbim explains the intent: “The townspeople publicly proclaim that they were not even indirectly responsible for the murder. That is to say, they did not withhold food from the murderer, so he was not driven away by hunger to the slaying. And they offered the victim an escort, so that he would not go unprotected onto a place of danger.”
Today, people are in various phases of processing the next phase of the pandemic. While most people have chosen to receive the vaccine, and others have not possibly due to medical issues, religious reasons or they still need more information people should not judge anyone. The society has laws and guidelines to secure and keep its citizens healthy. When individuals are stating one guideline and their actions are contradictory it causes confusion that may lead some people to anxiety. People for the most part try to adapt to the changes without causing harm to others. Keep in mind we are still in the liminal moment of history. Patience is needed.
May the month of Elul and the sounding blasts from the shofar awaken all of us that the Yamim Nora’im/High Holidays will soon be upon us. We start to look at weaknesses and pray that, with help from G-d, we will each find our inner strength to overcome our deficiencies to become a better person. All of us have renewed hope in our future and welcome the New Year, united in peace.
When the final LONG Shofar blast Tekiah Hagadol at the conclusion of Yom Kippur service, we pray that G-d will grant us a year in which we can change ourselves and the world for the better.
Rabbi Helene Ainbinder