Summary of The Weekly Torah Reading:
Note: The Shabbos Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section
is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person
"goes up" to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.
1st and 2nd Aliyot: Moshe details the most important characteristics of a Judge: the ability to remain objective and the strength to refuse bribery.
The singular focus of the Shofet must be to carry out the will of G-d as
detailed in the Halacha. Nothing must deter him in carrying out his mission
Idolatrous practices must be eradicated and punished. Idol worship
represents the greatest perversion of justice by replacing divine justice with
human failings and desires.
The Sanhedrin is our direct link with divine intent, and as stated in
Pasuk 17:11, we view the rulings and interpretations of the Supreme Court as
Our Monarch must be selected for his unyielding commitment to G-d, Torah,
and the people. This is why he must write his own Sefer Torah and carry it
with him at all times. He must be first and foremost a Shofet, a Judge.
3rd and 4th Aliyot: Moshe again addressed the place of the tribe of Levi,reemphasizing the care and attention due to them by the rest of the nation.
They are our teachers. Without their instruction we will neither understand
or be able to properly apply justice.
5th Aliya:For justice to exist, it must be accepted as a divine ruling.Only G-d's justice can be trusted to take into account all variables and
possibilities. Moshe instructed his nation regarding the true Navi - prophet
and the false prophet. No other forms of divination can be used to ascertain
G-d's justice, and all false prophets and methods of divination must be
destroyed. The value of human life is determined by our system of justice,
and Moshe reviewed the laws of the unintentional killing in contrast with the
6th, and 7th Aliyot: The end of Parshas Shoftim discusses both proper and false witnesses, as well as the Torah's approach to warfare. It may be that the
judicial quality of a nation can be ultimately assessed by its behavior during
war, more so than during times of peace.
The Parsha concludes with the unique mitzvah of the Eglah Arufa and the
process through which the community takes responsibility for the unsolved
murders. This ceremony, which reflects the priceless value of life, might be
the most eloquent expression of G-d's judicial system.
Parsha Summary by Rabbi Aron Tendler