Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  LifeLine
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Shoftim

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken


"Judges and officers shall you make for yourselves in all your gates, which HaShem your G-d gives you for your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgement." [Dev. 16:18]

The legal system set out in the Torah provides for both judgement and enforcement, and even more, makes the enforcement a central part of the process -- "and they shall judge" seems to refer to the officers as well as the judges. In addition, this commandment is given to all of Israel, rather than to a select group of leaders. How do we understand this? What can each of us do to set up judges, and even more, establish police? The answer, perhaps, lies in a deeper analysis of this obligation: within ourselves, we each must judge and police our own behavior.

As the Shla"h HaKadosh writes, the Sefer Yetzirah says that there are seven gates into a person. What are these seven "gates?" Two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and one mouth -- these are the gates, through which outside influences come into our bodies. The verse tells us to make judges and officers, to ensure that what comes in through our gates is not the bad but the good.

In any well-run city, produce and commerce comes in -- and the garbage is removed. But without guards at our gates, we can take in the worst garbage and filth and bring it into our hearts! Are we looking at garbage or holy texts? Are we listening to gossip or words of Torah? All of this depends upon the rules we set for ourselves and the way we police ourselves.

Rashi, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchoki, explains that "officers" are enforcers, who strike people with sticks when necessary to force them to follow the law. How, then, do we apply this when we attempt to police ourselves? In the hugely popular "Harry Potter" book series, there is an elf named Dobby who, whenever he does something that his owners would not want him to do, vigorously strikes himself as he imagines his owners would if they were there. This is meant to be humorous, because no one beats himself up in quite this fashion. This is not what policing ourselves is meant to be.

I've often been told that Aristotle was once found doing things that contradicted his own philosophical teachings, and responded to the questioner by saying "now I'm not Aristotle." In Talmudic sources [Nedarim 32b], we find that "at the time that the Evil Inclination takes control, there is no one to remind you of the Good Inclination." The key is to create reminders, the "policemen" that will catch us _before_ we do something wrong.

In our day, guidelines are unpopular. People claim that "rules are made to be broken." It's a choice between that philosophy, and policing oneself. But isn't the latter commonly known as "growing up"?

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Yaakov Menken


Text Copyright © 2002 Project Genesis, Inc.

The author is the Director of Project Genesis.


 






ARTICLES ON LECH LECHA:

View Complete List

Don't Walk in Front of Me (Anymore)
Shlomo Katz - 5763

Neither a Thread Nor a Shoelace
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756

To The Place G-d Will Show Us
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762

ArtScroll

Of Threads and Shoelaces
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5770

The Deeds of the Patriachs
Shlomo Katz - 5772

A Self-Starter
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5759

Looking for a Chavrusah?

It's All About Redemption Part III
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5766

The Moral of the Story
Shlomo Katz - 5768

Recognizing the Source of Our Good
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5762

> Spiritual Yichus
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5764

Our Future Lies in Chevron
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773

Out of This World
Rabbi Label Lam - 5769

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Count Us If You Can
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

Defying Natural Order
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5774

Lotís and Lots of Opportunities
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

There's No Place Like Away From Home...
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 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