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Parashat Shoftim - 5777

Dear friends,

In this week's Parasha, Moses instructs the people of Israel to establish a judicial system that would be accessible to all. Judges and officers shall be appointed in all districts and cities. This Parasha is devoted almost entirely to the theme of justice - the obligations of officials to judge fairly, show no partiality, and not to take bribes, as well as the limited powers of judges and kings.

A very famous verse in this Parasha:

"Justice, justice you shall pursue, that you may thrive and occupy the land that the L-rd your G-d is giving you." (Deuteronomy 16:20)

Justice is at the core of the people which would merit and deserve to live in the Promised Land.

'Tzedek' (justice), 'Tzaddik' (a righteous person), and 'Tzedaka' (giving charity) all have the same root: צ ד ק (Tzedek), calling upon each individual to do the right thing so that, collectively, we create a society that is just, fair and kind. Such a people will deserve to inherit the land permanently, and serve as a role model for the community of nations. That is what the Torah stands for and that is the virtue that G-d mentions in explaining why He chose Abraham. In the Book of Genesis, G-d gives the reason for choosing Abraham:

"For I know that he will instruct his children and his posterity to keep the way of the L-rd, by doing what is just and right, in order that the L-rd may bring about for Abraham what He has promised him." (Genesis 18:19)

In the long history of living in the Diaspora, Jews have experienced the tragic results of bias and discrimination. We must always be on guard and speak out against any rules that do not protect the rights of every individual. It is no wonder that Jews have always been at the forefront of fighting against discrimination of any kind. That struggle continues in Israel today. Jews associated with liberal movements are denied the right to practice Judaism in ways that are acceptable by the majority of Jews in the Diaspora.

We call upon those in political power: "Justice, justice you shall pursue, that you may thrive and occupy the land that the L-rd your G-d is giving you." For the sake of Am Yisrael, we must find a fair and just solution that will keep Am Yisrael together.

Shabbat Shalom,