SHOFTIM (Judges)

Deuteronomy 16:18 Appoint judges and officers for all your gates in your cities, which יהוה your Elohim gives you, tribe by tribe: and they will judge את־ the people with righteous judgment.

Question: What kind of judges must be appointed? The mere appointment of persons to staff the courts is not sufficient; they must be qualified and righteous, so that they will judge honestly and correctly (Rashi). The court must treat everyone equally. If a judge shows more respect to one litigant (the person engaged in a lawsuit), the other feels at a disadvantage (Rashi).

Question: What life lesson can we learn from this law? The Torah says to appoint judges and officers at the gates of our cities to protect them and maintain justice. We can also learn from this to carefully guard what we allow to pass through the ‘gates’ of our bodies – our eyes, ears, etc. – and start to take control of what we allow to influence our precious hearts and minds. Whatever we allow ourselves to see, hear or otherwise let into our bodies and minds is going to have an effect on us and we should value ourselves enough to set up guards, our good judgment, to make sure whatever we don’t want in – stays out.

Question: Does the fact that most people we know are doing something make it okay? We should learn to trust ourselves. Even if it seems everybody is doing something, if something about it doesn’t seem right we shouldn’t be afraid to follow our hearts and go against the tide. Our bodies, minds, and souls are the most precious things we possess and we should treat them like the highly guarded treasures they are.

Question: Is there something valuable to be gained by opening ourselves up to experiencing anything and everything? There is much more to be lost. Our bodies, mind, hearts, and most importantly souls are tremendously precious gifts from יהוה. When we use them right – letting in positive influences and guarding out negative ones, we can soar to the heights of spirituality and happiness. Some experiences just aren’t worth the cost of experiencing them. Once evil things have entered your “gates” you cannot take them back.

Spiritual Exercise: Guard over your eyes and ears and allow only pure things to enter them. Be careful when you are watching TV or movies or listening to music or reading books or listening to gossip. Would יהוה approve of what you are listening to and seeing?

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#48 Shoftim