In parashat Shoftim (Judges) Mosheh instructs the Israelites to appoint judges and law enforcement officers in every city, a basic societal structure for the Israelites. “According to the law that they will teach you, and the judgment they will instruct you, you shall do; you shall not turn away from the thing that they say to you, to the right nor to the left.” The parashah sets out rules for judges, kings, Levites, prophets, cities of refuge, witnesses, war, and unsolved murders.
Every city where at least 120 Jewish man live, should have a sanhedrin of 23 members, to enforce the law of the Torah. The parashah begins with the mitzvah to appoint judges “at all your gates”. Gates are openings that needs to be guarded and protected.
Can we “See No Evil Hear No Evil Speak No Evil”? There are various meanings ascribed to the three wise monkeys and the proverb including associations with being of good mind, speech and action. The phrase is often used to refer to those who deal with impropriety by turning a blind eye. What about our own personal judgment? Making judgments versus Being judgmental.
Being judgmental is being perceived as a negative thing. We all want to see ourselves as smart, kind, patient, and forgiving people most of the time. But the truth is that we aren’t. There is a big difference between making judgments and being judgmental. Making judgments comes from a balanced and neutral mind. On the other hand, being judgmental comes from an imbalanced and reactive mind that is seeking to protect itself from being hurt by others. Being a judgmental person essentially means thinking, speaking, or behaving in a manner that reflects a critical and condemnatory point of view. Being judgmental isn’t all bad. When our inner Judge is balanced, we are able to make clear decisions and avoid potentially dangerous situations.
What about the “gates” of our faces; the eyes, the ears, the mouth, and the nose? The Torah teaches us that in order for us “See No Evil Hear No Evil Speak No Evil” they too need “judges”.
Our Eyes– Do you see the Cup Half Full or Half Empty? Do you strive to see the good in all people?
Our Ears– We should avoid listening to Lashon Hara. There are so many reasons why gossiping is bad but it still happens on a regular basis. We’ve all been victims of gossiping, yet still turn around and gossip about others. It’s a vicious cycle and it needs to stop.
Our Mouths– What do you eat? what words come out of your mouth?
As we welcome the month of Elul, it is our time, to take the time for a deep soul searching, reflecting on the way we were, the way we are, and the way we would like to be, as a preparation for the coming Day of Judgement, ראש השנה, and Day of Atonement, יום כיפור During the month of Elul we wishes that the recipient have a good year. The standard blessing is “K’tivah VaChatima Tovah” (“a good writing and sealing [of judgement]”), meaning that the person should be written and sealed in the Book of Life for a good year. Tradition teaches us that on Rosh Hashanah, each person is written down for a good or a bad year, based on their actions in the previous one, and their sincere efforts at atoning for mistakes or harm. On Yom Kippur, that fate is “sealed.”
By placing “judges” on our “gates”, guarding what we see, hear and speak, by being positive and connecting to high frequencies like LOVE, and shy away from low frequencies like HATE, we will find healing to our wounded souls. May we all “See No Evil Hear No Evil Speak No Evil” and sealed in the book of life. Amen.
42 Mitzvot in Parashat Shoftim
1. Appoint judges Deut. 16:18
2. Not to plant a tree in the Temple courtyard Deut. 16:21
3. Not to erect a pillar in a public place of worship Deut. 16:22
4. Not to offer a temporarily blemished animal Deut. 17:1
5. Act according to the ruling of the Sanhedrin Deut. 17:11
6. Not to deviate from the word of the Sanhedrin Deut. 17:11
7. Appoint a king from Israel Deut. 17:15
8. Not to appoint a foreigner Deut. 17:15
9. The king must not have too many horses Deut. 17:16
10. Not to dwell permanently in Egypt Deut. 17:16
11. The king must not have too many wives Deut. 17:17
12. The king must not have too much silver and gold Deut. 17:17
13. The king must have a separate Sefer Torah for himself Deut. 17:18
14. The Tribe of Levi must not be given a portion of the land in Israel, rather they are given cities to dwell in Deut. 18:1
15. The Levites must not take a share in the spoils of war Deut. 18:1
16. To give the shoulder, two cheeks, and stomach of slaughtered animals to a Kohen Deut. 18:3
17. To set aside Terumah Gedolah (gift for the Kohen) Deut. 18:4
18. To give the first shearing of sheep to a Kohen Deut. 18:4
19. The work of the Kohanim’s shifts must be equal during holidays Deut. 18:6-8
20. Not to go into a trance to foresee events, etc. Deut. 18:10
21. Not to perform acts of magic Deut. 18:10
22. Not to mutter incantations Deut. 18:11
23. Not to attempt to contact the dead Deut. 18:11
24. Not to consult the ov Deut. 18:11
25. Not to consult the yidoni Deut. 18:11
26. To listen to the prophet speaking in His Name Deut. 18:15
27. Not to prophesize falsely in the name of God Deut. 18:20
28. Not to be afraid of killing the false prophet Deut. 18:22
29. Designate cities of refuge and prepare routes of access Deut. 19:3
30. A judge must not pity the murderer or assaulter at the trial Deut. 19:13
31. Not to move a boundary marker to steal someone’s property Deut. 19:14
32. Not to accept testimony from a lone witness Deut. 19:15
33. A witness must not serve as a judge in capital crimes Deut. 19:17
34. Punish the false witnesses as they tried to punish the defendant Deut. 19:19
35. Appoint a priest to speak with the soldiers during the war Deut. 20:2
36. Not to panic and retreat during battle Deut. 20:3
37. Offer peace terms to the inhabitants of a city while holding siege, and treat them according to the Torah if they accept the terms Deut. 20:10
38. Not to let any of them remain alive Deut. 20:16
39. Destroy the seven Canaanite nations Deut. 20:17
40. Not to destroy fruit trees even during the siege Deut. 20:19
41. Break the neck of a calf by the river valley following an unsolved murder Deut. 21:4
42. Not to work nor plant that river valley Deut. 21:4