Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 

Judges (Shoftim)

The book of Shoftim traces the history of the Jews in Israel from the death of Yehoshua (2516 - which was 1244 BCE) until 2830 (930 BCE). The book goes through two parallel tracks: the first track details what happened to the nation, and the second track describs each generation's leader - its judge (i.e. Gideon, Samson, Debra, etc).

Just a quick glance at the book will show the reader the regular cycle of the period's history:

  1. The people slip into idol worship.
  2. G-d becomes "angry" and removes His close protection and the Philistines or Midionites (the bullies next door) are suddenly threatening.
  3. The people cry out to G-d, who sends a judge to
    • bring the people back to the proper Divine service
    • push the enemy back out of Jewish territory
(for an overview of the Judges from the words of the book itself, see Shoftim, chapter 2; 11 - 23).

That's the first impression...and it's not necessarily wrong. In fact, if you took a good, long look at the whole 3500-year history of the Jews you might find a very similar pattern. Traditional Judaism believes that the hand of G-d is active in the affairs of this world and that He cares about the actions of individual human beings. If we are righteous (by doing what G-d wants), then, by and large, G-d will deal with us accordingly. Therefore, it's only natural that the fortunes of Israel in this world should be bound to its spiritual life. There are, of course, exceptions - as there are to any good rule but the rule is strong enough just the same.

What was a judge? He (or in the case of Debra: she) was more than just someone who sat on a bench all day handing out traffic fines. A judge was the biggest political, (often) religious, moral leader of his generation. Perhaps most importantly, most of them were links in the chain of our oral tradition.

For a good look at the institution of judges (shoftim), see the book "Samson's Struggle," by Rabbi Gershon Weiss (Kol HaYeshiva Publications).


Rabbi Boruch Clinton teaches at the Ottawa Torah Institute yeshiva high school and Machon Sarah high school for girls (both in Ottawa, Canada). You may reach him with comments and questions at bclinton@torah.org.

You can now read some of Rabbi Clinton's essays on Torah life at http://www.ncf.ca/~es625/essays

You can also buy his collection of essays on the Book of Shmuel (Samuel) in printed form at www.lulu.com/marbitzmedia

Copyright 2000 by Rabbi Boruch Clinton and Project Genesis, Inc.

 






ARTICLES ON DEVARIM AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

They Can Assure a Cure
Rabbi Label Lam - 5773

To See or Not to See - That is the Question
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5762

Mourning on the 9th of Av: The Reasons
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

Looking for a Chavrusah?

That's Not What Friends Are For
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

So Much to Say
Shlomo Katz - 5761

It's Not What You Want - But How You Ask
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5759

> Fear Itself
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

Rebuking 101
Shlomo Katz - 5765

YomTov, vol. XIII # 3
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5767

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Payment in Full
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5766

Visionary Words
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5759

No Empty Matter
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5766

ArtScroll

Of Prophets and Teachers
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5761

Learning to Love What Is!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

17th of Tammuz: Why We Fast - Part 2
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

Golden Opportunities
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5773



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information
 






ARTICLES ON DEVARIM AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

So Much to Say
Shlomo Katz - 5761

In Our Best Interest
Rabbi Elly Broch - 5764

A Lesson About Our Psyche
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

> What Are We Missing On Tisha B'Av?
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

Learning to Love What Is!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

Small Favors
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5772

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Paradise Lost
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5759

9th of Av: Reasons for Fasting - Part 2
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

Now I Know My Aleph-Bais
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5764

ArtScroll

The Way to a Person's Soul is Through His Dignity
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5757

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5771

And So The Journey Continues
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5765

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Harnessing Powers
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5761

If only . . .
Shlomo Katz - 5771

Children are a Gift
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5762

Tooth and Nail
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5770



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information