Sedra Shoftim, 120 Words


Judaism is about engagement.

Gd does not want obedience. Obedience is mindless. With obedience there is no love nor loyalty; there may well be resentment. Obedience is simply Pavlov’s dog on two legs.

Gd wants us to discuss and argue His Law. Just look at our Gemara; not one page without plenty of debate. Look at our Halachic authorities; Arguments Galore. Look at any Gemara Study Hall; people gesticulating wildly and shouting at one another. It resembles a cage fight more than a university. That’s why Gd made us all different. We don’t look the same, we don’t share fingerprints, voiceprints or iris prints. Neither does Gd want us to think the same.

Rashis explains, “and they will judge righteously” [16:18], not as a command to the judges. It is a command to the community. The ENTIRE community is obliged to engage is appointing and maintaining judges who are righteous, experts and have Kadurim. Justice is everyone’s business, not something to be observed and approved or disapproved of from the side-lines. When our leadership does not act righteously Gd wants us to be act, not just be Pavlov’s dog. Because we are responsible for maintaining righteous, honest leaders, who have the fortitude to do the right thing.

King Chizkiyahu was such a man. He did not hide but publicised his father’s faults. That took loyalty to Gd, and guts.