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.
Judaism concepts and values:
The prohibition of wastefulness in Judaism against the waste or unnecessary destruction of anything that might be useful to humans is derived from the injunction against the destruction of fruit trees in territory captured from an enemy (Deuteronomy 20:19). This precept, referred to by the rabbis as bal tashchit, served as the basis of the Talmudic law which prohibits intentional destruction of natural resources, or any kind of vandalism, even if the act is committed by the owners of the property themselves. According to this law, one must not destroy anything that may prove useful to others. A person who tears his clothing or smashes household furniture in a fit of anger, or squanders money, is likened to an idolator (Talmud Shabbat 105b).
Doing justly from Deuteronomy 16:20 states, “Justice, justice you shall pursue.” This phrase is a guiding principle in Judaism. It is often interpreted to mean that in one’s pursuit of just and righteous ends, the means to the end must also be just. The Haftarah and the Torah connection of justice gives the fundamental requisite for all humans living on the earth. As the Haftarot of Consolation, the Haftarah provides a comforting message to the dispersed Jewish people after the destruction of the Temple and their banishment to Babylonia.
Important concepts are that Israel was chosen and preserved by G-d, in order that through Israel G-d might plant heaven, i.e., righteousness and mercy, in the soul of humanity. Also, Jerusalem will arise from its present degradation.
Today, it appears that justice is lacking. Some people are choosing poor actions and words to get their points across to others. There is a lack of compassion, and kindness towards individuals with opposing viewpoints. We Jews are thinking people. We bear in mind that the time is now for us to strive to increase performing mitzvot/righteous action and spreading our words of encouragement, which will bring more light into the darkness.
As Abraham Joshua Heschel once stated, “ Are we the messengers who forgot the message” – the message being “Love your neighbor as yourself”? (Vayikra 19:18)
May the month of Elul and the sounding blasts from the shofar wake us from our slumber that the Yamim Nora’im/High Holidays will soon be upon us. Let us reflect, look at weaknesses and pray that, with help from G-d. May we each find our inner strength to overcome our deficiencies to become a better person. All of us have a renewed hope in our future as we welcome the New Year, united in peace.
When the final LONG Shofar blast of 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
Next Saturday, September 10th, beginning at 10:00 am at St. George Town Square, I will be offering the opening prayer for the Commemoration and Remembrance of 9-11. I realize it is Shabbat, however I feel it is an honor to Remember those that lost their lives on 9-11. I am from New York, and Michael and our son, Ian worked in NYC on that horrific day.