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 BAMIDBAR AND SHAVUOS:

View Complete List

What's in a Name
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5773

To Be Amongst The Counted
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758

Growth Through Reading
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5760

> A Mystical Idea May Help Us Understand the Incomprehensible
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5772

Where is Your Furniture?
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5757

In the Wilderness
Shlomo Katz - 5768

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Love Child
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5756

Fire, Water, and the Desert
Shlomo Katz - 5759

The Mushroom Experience
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5761

ArtScroll

One for All and All for One
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5762

A Man at 30 Days
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5757

Take a Deep Breath
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5762

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Not Just Numbers
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

Back to the Present
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5763

Being One: Have a Good Heart
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5774

You Can't Take It With You
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764



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 BAMIDBAR AND SHAVUOS:

View Complete List

Strength in Numbers
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5768

Everyone Counts
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5770

Torah and PTA
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5758

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Parshas Naso and Chag Shavuos
Rabbi Chaim Flom - 5767

As You Rest - So Shall You Travel
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5762

The Mushroom Experience
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5761

> The Sotah In Us All
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

The Ultimate Partnership
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

The Basis of Marriage
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5759

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Shavu'os and Megillas Rus
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

Not Just Another Joe
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5761

The Wilderness:Key to Grandeur
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5774

ArtScroll

Like Cheese Cake
Rabbi Label Lam - 5773

Torahs Security Bais!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

It's Not What, But Why - Part I
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5766

Who Can We Be?
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5766



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