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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 SHOFTIM AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

Parshas Shoftim
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

In The Shadow Of Hashem
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5770

Judge Yourself Before Judging Others
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5759

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Judging By The Situation
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

The Shofar: A Wake-Up Call
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

There is a Treasure
Rabbi Label Lam - 5766

ArtScroll

Thoughts for Pre-Rosh Hashanah
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5755

Its Good to be the King?
Jon Erlbaum - 0

Objectively Honest
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5757

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Uniqueness Of Rosh HaShana
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

Look Before You Leap
Shlomo Katz - 5767

Rosh Hashana and the Kiss of Life
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5772

> Tell It To The Judge
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5764

Of Rocks and Hundred Dollar Bills
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5757

The Double Language: Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5764

Judgement on Perceptions
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5767



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ARTICLES ON SHOFTIM AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

The Art of the Deal and It's Impact
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

Nerve Centre of the Year
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

One Stop Shopping
Rabbi Shlomo Jarcaig - 5764

ArtScroll

One of A King
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5764

Under God's Control
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5772

'Sin... Don't Laugh!'
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5755

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Successful Search
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

What Makes Us Holy
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

Truth and a Place Called Kushta
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5758

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Tell It To The Judge
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5764

Judge Me Tender, Judge Me Sweet
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5760

The Special Role of the Kohen Who Reminds Us of the Source of Success at War
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

> Command the King
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

Seeing G-d's Imprint on Creation
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5762

You'll be the Judge of That
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5765

Challenged in the Heat of Battle
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5761



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

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Features

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Free Book on Geulah!




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