"You shall appoint judges and police in all of your gates, and they will
judge the people a righteous judgment."
Our Parasha begins with instructions to the people of Israel to set up a
judicial system in all of their cities and with an admonition to judges to
judge their cases fairly. Our Sages teach that all of the Torah portions
that we read in the days between Rosh Hodesh Elul and Yom Kippur contain
allusions to the battle with the evil inclination, the Teshubah process and
character improvement -- all the elements necessary for a successful trial
on Rosh Hashanah.
The Kli Yakar points out that the verse says, "you shall appoint judges for
yourself [Lecha] "--indicating that one should judge himself or herself
before they point a finger at others. Check your character and behavior,
fix your faults and only then can you judge others fairly. "Appoint judges
for yourself" and then you will certainly "judge the people a fair judgment"
Others say that the word "lecha"-- "for you" advises one to treat others as
they would treat themselves. One should not be strict with others and
lenient when it comes to themselves. Rabbi Simha Bunim from Peshischa says
that when one is constantly evaluating their own behavior and they realize
that they are not perfect then it will certainly lead them to see the
strong points in someone else. In other words the verse is telling us that
when you "appoint judges for yourself'' then certainly you will "judge the
The Shelah HaKadosh sees in this instruction a command to control what goes
in and out of you "gates"
A person has eyes, ears, a mouth and nose. To reach spiritual perfection on
must set judges and policemen at all of your gates. Should we all exercise
caution and monitor carefully what goes in and out of our physical "gates"
i.e. what we look at, what we say and what we listen to then we can all be
assured of "righteous judgment" on that crucial day Rosh Hashanah.
May we all take advantages of this special period of grace and favor called
Elul and concentrate on self improvement and forgiveness so that G-d will
also only see good when He judges every individual, every community and
every country on this Rosh Hashanah for life filled with blessing and
ANOTHER LESSON FROM THE PARASHA
You should prepare the way ...that every murderer shall flee there.
The Torah laws about the treatment of an accidental murderer are unique in
the world. Man-made law could never imagine the parameters set by our Holy
Book in regard to the perpetrator of the death of another. The killer is
advised to flee to a city of refuge wherein the relatives are not permitted
to kill him in revenge for the death of their loved one. If the murderer
fails to enter a refuge city before a relative can catch him then the
pursuer may kill the killer. The Torah commands the people of Israel to set
signposts along the roads that indicate the safe haven to the fleeing
killer. Rab Hamma bar Hanina said: "If for the wicked Hashem shows the path
to a refuge from harm, then certainly He does so for the righteous." Anyone
traveling the roads of the Holy Land in the times of the Sanhedrin could
see the many directional signs that filled the roads. Where are the signs
that Hashem provides for us in our generation?
Halakha means law but it also means the way to walk. If anyone has a
question about which way to proceed in almost any life situation one should
consult the Halakha. When Yaakob Abinu a'h fell asleep on the Temple Mount
he had a prophetic dream that revealed to him the destiny of himself and
his offspring throughout history. When he awoke and realized the holy
nature of the place where he had slept he exclaimed," Had I known, I would
not have slept in such a holy place." The import of this statement to all
Jews at all times is that Yaakob our Patriarch was willing to forego an
essential prophetic message and a promise from Hashem to protect him
wherever he would travel in his personal exile and to protect his children
throughout their future exiles -- if it meant he had to violate the
sanctity of the Temple Mount by sleeping there. If the Halakha forbids
sleeping in that holy place -- so be it. Yaakob Abinu would have found
another place to rest.
In every person's life there are crossroads. Points where decisions that
are crucial to success or failure in career, marriage, physical health and
spiritual growth must be made. Where should one turn? What direction should
one take? Look for the road signs provided by our Heavenly Father. Check
with an authority what the Halakha dictates in your personal situation and
follow the sign to success. Life's roads are very confusing and each person
has difficulties that may lead him or her down the wrong path to a dead end
or h'v to disaster. By following the Halakha one is assured that the path
will lead to the end that is best under the circumstances.