Shoftim

[based in part on divrei torah by Rav Aryeh Lebowitz and Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl]

There is a machlokes in Yevamos daf 4, about whether we are meant to learn anything from the ordering of the Parshiot/subjects in the Torah (doreish smuchim). Even Rav Yehuda, who typically holds that there is no added lesson in the ordering, says that Sefer Devarim is the exception, and that there are lessons to be learned from the way in which Moshe ordered his speech in Sefer Devarim.

What can be learned from the juxtaposition of the descriptions of the Shalosh Regalim at the end of Parshat Re’eh, with the commandment about appointing judges and officers at the beginning of Parshat Shoftim?
Rav Nebenzahl suggested that the juxtaposition teaches us about ensuring the longevity of the religious high and spiritual heights we achieve during the chagim

The end of Re’eh talks about the halachot, karbanot, and joy associated with aliyah l’regel. Without question, we are supposed to be inspired on these pilgrimages to Yerushalayim. We are supposed to be wrapped up in the moment and the celebration.

But real test, is how/whether we are be affected once the chagim have come to a close. No doubt it was easy to be inspired on the shalosh regalim; seeing the nation gathered together, seeing the avodah in the Beis HaMikdash etc. We know, however, that the chagim are not the only time in the year for religion – Judaism is all day, every day (with varying levels of intensity and ritual service).

When the chagim are over, and we go back to our job or school, are we still acting like someone touched by religious experience?

As part of a related thought, a question is posed about the reasoning behind the name of “Akeidat Yitzchak.” The word ‘akeida’ means ‘binding’. But wasn’t the most impressive part of Yitzchak Avinu’s behavior his messirus nefesh or the fact that he was put on the altar in the first place?  

Why not ״העלעת יצחק״? Why highlight the actual binding, instead of the actual placement on the alter and Yitzchak’s character traits of willingness and devotion that were at the heart of this brave act?

The Shemen Hatov points out that, according to Chazal, Yitzchak asked Avraham to tie him more tightly to the altar, lest he jump up at the last moment, and ruin the sacrificial act.

Yitzchak wasn’t merely caught up in the inspiration he felt while preparing to do Hashem’s will.  He also thought about the next few moments; he thought about ensuring that he wouldn’t lose that inspiration – at the key moment – as his father came toward him with the knife.  At a time of great inspiration, before the climax of the moment, he was preparing a method to ensure that he wouldn’t fail once some of that inspiration began to dissipate. The physical binding was Yitzchak instituting a safeguard to ensure that his dedication to his mission would continue, even after that inspiration might be challenged.

That safeguard is what we celebrate; we celebrate not as much the messirus nefesh moment, but what did he did with that moment. He used that moment to make sure it would be lasting. Forward thinking as to how he would react as time went on.

One possible way to ensure this for ourselves is the commandment of having  שופטים ושוטרים…בכל שעריך

The hope is for us to ensure that we see Hashem and have ambassadors of Torah all of our cities and communities.
It is a communal responsibility and a personal question to be asked: what system/infrastructure do I/we need to put in place to ensure I still feel inspired; what measures/safeguards need to be taken to live in the proper framework; what is ourakeidah?

Perhaps that is why we read the story of the Akeidah on Rosh Hashana – to get us to think, ON Rosh Hashana, specifically during our season of inspiration, about what measures we need to take to ensure the inspiration continues through Yom Kippur and Sukkot and throughout the entire year.

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