Ariel Ben Avraham
Ariel Ben Avraham

Parshat Shoftim: Living in God’s justice

The best guidance and counsel we have in consciousness is our judgment, and we have to endow it with the highest awareness of love’s ways and attributes.

Our consciousness encompasses multiple facets, layers, dimensions and expressions that in the Torah are represented by our Tribes (the best human traits and qualities to fulfill the Creator’s will), the Promised Land (our individual and collective lives with their entire potential in God’s ways and attributes), cities (material knowledge, habits, customs, ideologies, beliefs, convictions, tendencies) that we must direct with the wisdom God teaches us when we follow His ways.

This direction is the judgment, the discernment that only the righteousness and justice of God’s love must be the conductors of all aspects of life in plenitude, abundance, happiness and peace.

“You shall set up judges (shoftim) and [law enforcement] officials for yourself in all your cities that the Lord, your God, is giving you, for your tribes, and they shall judge the people [with] righteous judgment.” (Deuteronomy 16:18)

Hence the best judges in our consciousness are love’s ways and attributes, not only to guide all dimensions of life but also the way we approach our surrounding material reality.

“Justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may live and possess the land the Lord, your God, is giving you.” (16:20)

This is the justice of love, the only one that we must pursue in order to live in our Promised Land.

We have indicated that righteousness, justice, truth, peace and loving kindness are all inherent qualities of themselves, as it is reminded by our wisest kings and prophets.

“Loving kindness and truth have met, righteousness and peace have kissed”, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; loving kindness and truthfulness go before You.” (Psalms 85:11, 89:15)

“Let love and truthfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the table of your heart.” (Proverbs 3:3)

“The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be tranquility and confidence forever.” (Isaiah 32:17)

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act with justice and to love loving kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

“Thus said the Lord of hosts has said: ‘Administer true justice; do loving kindness and compassion to one another.” (Zechariah 7:9)

We have to understand them all as the primordial ways and attributes of love, as well as clear reflections of God’s love in us.

The portion continues emphasizing the inspiring, guiding and teaching role of our highest awareness of God’s love, represented by the high priest and the tribe of Levi, as our best judgment to approach life and the world.

“According to the law they [priests and Levites] instruct you [and] according to the judgment they say to you, you shall do; you shall not divert from the word they tell you, either right or left. (…) For the Lord, your God, has chosen him [Levi] out of all your Tribes, to stand and serve in the name of the Lord, he and his sons, all the days.” (Deuteronomy 17:11, 18:5)

We need the best judgment when we have to confront ego’s materialistic desires in the battlefield of illusions.

“And it will be, when you approach the battle, that the kohen [high priest] shall come near, and speak to the people.” (20:2)

This discernment also reminds us that when we live in love’s ways, God’s love is also fighting in our wars to freedom from the attachments to ego’s fantasies and illusions.

“For the Lord, your God, is the One who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to redeem you.” (20:4)

It is thus, for He is our sole redeemer from the traps of the illusions that we create with our feelings of lack.

These wars and battles are about regaining love in every aspect of our life, love as our essence and true identity. In order to set up love in all dimensions of consciousness we first must work with the traits that have taken us down into the darkness of negative thoughts, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts.

These traits are the cities that represent our mistaken beliefs and ideas, negative thoughts and emotions, lower desires and passions, and instincts out of control. We have to confront them not necessarily as mortal enemies that we must destroy, but as traits that we can transform or redirect into the positive and constructive ways of love’s attributes.

“When you approach a city to wage war against it, you shall propose peace to it. And it will be, if it responds to you with peace, and it opens up to you, then it will be, [that] all the people found therein shall become tributary to you, and they shall serve you.” (20:10-11)

We must be persistent until we refine them enough to make them part of our intellectual, mental, emotional and physical strength.

“(…) and you shall build bulwarks against the city that makes war with you, until its submission.” (20:20)

Again, the prophet recalls in the haftarah that God’s love is with us in our wars to regain the freedom that love is, in order to leave behind the negative consequences of ego’s materialistic illusions, the nothingness for which we sale our true identity.

“Shake yourselves from the dust, arise, sit down O Jerusalem; free yourself of the bands of your neck, O captive daughter of Zion. For so said the Lord, ‘you were sold for nothing, and you shall not be redeemed for money’.” (Isaiah 52:2-3)

God’s love teaches us that though we sale our consciousness for the nothingness of illusion, not with another illusion (“money”) we regain it, in order to return to love.

Thus we know that it is up to us our return to His love, because He always speaks to us even in our darkest illusions.

“Therefore, My people shall know My name; therefore, on that day, for I am He who speaks, here I am.” (52:6)

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
Related Topics
Related Posts