This Week’s Parasha – Shofetim (Deuteronomy 16:18–21:9)

Wikipedia: “Shofetim or Shoftim (שֹׁפְטִים‬ — Hebrew for “judges,” the first word in the parashah) is the 48th weekly Torah portion (פָּרָשָׁה‬, parashah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the fifth in the Book of Deuteronomy. It constitutes Deuteronomy 16:18–21:9. The parashah provides a constitution — a basic societal structure — for the Israelites. The parashah sets out rules for judges, kings, Levites, prophets, cities of refuge, witnesses, war, and unsolved murder victims.”

This is my favorite Torah portion.

* Justice is a word that makes Jews excited just like the word “love” makes Christians excited. (Dennis Prager)

* The idea of one God with one moral code for humanity (ethical monotheism) makes the pursuit of justice easier. That’s why the Torah condemns idolatry, because that compromises ethical monotheism.


17 Do not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep that has any defect or flaw in it, for that would be detestable to him.

2 If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the Lord gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God in violation of his covenant, 3 and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars in the sky, 4 and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, 5 take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death. 6 On the testimony of two or three witnesses a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. 7 The hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting that person to death, and then the hands of all the people. You must purge the evil from among you.

8 If cases come before your courts that are too difficult for you to judge—whether bloodshed, lawsuits or assaults—take them to the place the Lord your God will choose. 9 Go to the Levitical priests and to the judge who is in office at that time. Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict. 10 You must act according to the decisions they give you at the place the Lord will choose. Be careful to do everything they instruct you to do. 11 Act according to whatever they teach you and the decisions they give you. Do not turn aside from what they tell you, to the right or to the left. 12 Anyone who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to the Lord your God is to be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel. 13 All the people will hear and be afraid, and will not be contemptuous again.

14 When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,” 15 be sure to appoint over you a king the Lord your God chooses. He must be from among your fellow Israelites. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not an Israelite.

18: 9 When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. 13 You must be blameless before the Lord your God.

You have a separation of powers in the Torah constitution with the Israelites, priests, Levites and King constantly checking each other.

From CNN:

(CNN)Far-right groups and counterprotesters are expected to converge on the nation’s capital Sunday, one year after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, left one person dead and elevated racial tensions in America.

The “Unite the Right 2” rally is being billed as a “white civil rights rally” meant to protest “civil rights abuse in Charlottesville.”
Sunday’s demonstrations and the opposing rallies are taking place in an atmosphere of heightened racial tension.
In recent months, anxiety over racial bias and racism has been exemplified in instances in which police were called on people of color for innocuous acts like napping in a dormitory common room, having a barbecue and going to the pool.
This week, NFL players in the first preseason games resumed their protests over police brutality against blacks by raising their fists, kneeling or sitting out during the National Anthem.
“We’ve always acted as if black lives never mattered, as if people of color never mattered,” Susan Bro, the mother of the counterprotester killed in Charlottesville last year, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Friday. “We really have not treated people of color in the same way we ourselves want to be treated. And I’m calling b.s. on that.”
As many as 400 people are expected to attend Sunday’s white nationalist demonstration, according to the event’s permit application submitted by Jason Kessler, the same person who organized last year’s “Unite the Right” rally in opposition to the renaming of two parks honoring Confederate generals.
That event included white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan.
Participants are expected to gather at Washington’s Foggy Bottom subway station at 5 p.m. ET before marching to Lafayette Square park, across the street from the White House, according to the permit application.

They won’t be alone. A series of counterprotests are planned in Washington throughout the day, led by members of 40 anti-racism groups. The Shut it Down D.C. Coalition, for example, scheduled its own rally beginning at noon to counter “Unite the Right 2.”
Black Lives Matter DC is hosting the “Rise Up Fight Back Counter-Protest” between 2 and 7 p.m., just a block away from where “Unite the Right 2” is set to take place.
In the past, similar far-right demonstrations have been dwarfed by counterprotests.
For example, at a a separate Ku Klux Klan gathering in Charlottesville in July 2017, where Klansmen were outnumbered 20 to 1, according to Charlottesville officials.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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