Shabbat Parashat Shoftim 5777–Paul Magy’s Shabbat Torah Study E-drasha in the D–Our Battle Cry!

This week’s Parasha, like many, brings modern insights out of ancient rituals.

When Israelites were going to war, a Kohen would say to the troops:

Shema Yisrael! (“Hear O Israel”) You are about to join battle with your enemy. Let not your courage falter. Do not be in fear or in panic or in dread of them. For it is the Lord your God who marches with you to do battle for you against your enemy to bring you victory.”

Deuteronomy 20:2-4.

Just as with a real war, when we are told “Shema Yisrael”—God is with us, we say Shema Yisrael EVERY DAY (hopefully twice) to remember that God is with each of us every day, in each of our struggles and personal battles and in everything we do.

Chasidus speaks of our daily lives as a struggle and battle against the forces of evil and its twin step-brothers apathy and complacency. Shema Yisrael—God is with us as we do battle with those forces in the hopes of making the world a better place.

We know that our daily lives are filled with choices, some easy and mundane, some challenging and painful, some with far reaching consequences. Some of our choices require very thoughtful analysis and decision making. Some of our choices require decisions that involve personal struggle.

Remember though, “Shema Yisrael”—do not fear or panic—God marches with you. How do you feel when you say it? Try it.

Tomorrow’s Shabbat Torah Study will be led by our teacher Ruth Bergman on the topic of “Due Process and Deuteronomy.” She states, “We will look at what the Torah demands in terms of investigation, witnesses, and moral character of the judges. Laws of the king—that he is under the law, not above it—what to do in cases of negligent homicide, and what to do when a body is found and no one knows who did it.” This promises to be a fascinating discussion.

9:45 a.m. in the Shiffman Chapel. Come as you are. Stay as long as you like. We finish in time for the Rabbi’s sharing of Shabbat wisdom.

Shabbat shalom,


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