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 KI SAVO AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

And Straight Again!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5766

The Bond that Ties - Prayer
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5756

The Secret To Spiritual Success
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5764

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Reward of a Mitzvah
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5768

Plotting Our Course for the Coming Year
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5761

A Spiritual Time
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5769

ArtScroll

A Welcome Houseguest
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5759

The Healer Is On-Call
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5773

Apparently Heir-Apparent
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5765

> Little Things Make a Difference
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761

The 'New' of the New Year
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

All that We Have is From Hashem
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

A Rosh Hashana Message
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5769

To Begin--to Cook from Within
Rabbi Label Lam - 5766

Fruit of Our Labor
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5759

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



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 KI SAVO AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

1. Prayer, the Path to Clarity
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5771

Recognizing His Gifts
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

Effects of Our Enemies
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5755

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Little Voice
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5769

Shofar: The Court Summons
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766

Do You Believe in the World-to-Come?
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5772

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Strike While the Iron is Hot
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5765

Striving For Simplicity
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

The Healer Is On-Call
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5773

> You Gotta Believe (in Yourself)!
Shlomo Katz - 5774

The Act of Investing
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5762

Personal and Communal Growth
Shlomo Katz - 5761

ArtScroll

The Kohain Connection
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5771

Rosh HaShana - Of Creation and Our King
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

The Judgment
Shlomo Katz - 5759

That Ancient Memory
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771



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