, , Machon Meir , and more… WEEKLY Parasha Parshat Shoftim , Language : english,SHIURIM & COMMENTARIES

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Machon Meir

Parshat Pekudei (10/03/10)  Machon MeirMachon Meir  ENGLISH  :MeirTV English

Rabbi Menachem Listman

For over 35 years, Machon Meir has become known throughout Israel as the place to get a deeper understanding what it truly means to be a member of the Jewish people. It has also become the landing point for many new immigrants from all over the world because of the institute’s encouragement of living in the Land of Israel. Machon Meir has also created a strategy to distribute Torah worldwide through their media channel, Arutz Meir. Since it began, Arutz Meir has debuted a range of television series and archived over 25,000 classes which are constantly being updated and viewed daily throughout the world in 5 different languages. With a variety of topics and discussions led by renowned Jewish scholars, our viewers will surely find a class that will create sparks of inspiration. Whether you are looking to connect to your Jewish heritage or you are simply seeking out answers, we exist to imbue the words of Torah and engage our viewers with real and meaningful

Paracha Pekoude (01/03/11)  Machon MeirMachon Meir MeirTvFrench

Rav Chlomo Aviner

  Machon MeirMachon Meir   MeirTvRussian

Rabbi Yona Levin

“За чашкой чая”
Беседа в тёплой, неформальной обстановке о том,
как современный интеллигентный слушатель воспринимает нашу традицию.
В передаче мы попробуем получить ответы на непростые вопросы,
которые еврейский народ задаёт уже не первое тысячелетие.
Присоединяйтесь, приходите к нам на чашечку чая.
Не стесняйтесь, чувствуйте себя как дома!
Из цикла передач “За Чашкой Чая” 96-го канала из Иерусалима.
Наша Традиция на вашем языке!

  Machon MeirMachon Meir   ESPAÑOL MeirTvSpanish
Por más de 35 años, Machon Meir ha dado a conocer a través de Israel como el lugar para obtener una comprensión más profunda lo que realmente significa ser un miembro del pueblo judío. También se ha convertido en el punto de aterrizaje para muchos nuevos inmigrantes de todas partes del mundo, porque de aliento de la vida en la Tierra de Israel del instituto. Majón Meir también ha creado una estrategia para distribuir la Torá en todo el mundo a través de su canal de medios, Arutz Meir. Desde sus inicios, Arutz Meir ha estrenado una serie de series de televisión y archivado más de 25.000 clases que constantemente se están actualizando y ver todos los días en todo el mundo en 5 idiomas diferentes. Con una variedad de temas y discusiones dirigidas por renombrados eruditos judíos, nuestros televidentes seguramente encontrará una clase que va a crear chispas de inspiración.

Rabino Rafael Spangenthal


  Machon MeirMachon Meir   עברית    Rabbi Dov Bigon

Rav Elisha Wishlitzky




24JEWISH Parshat Hashavuah, Rabbanim, rav Reuben Ebrahimoff , language english, SHIURIM & COMMENTARIES



ONCE UPON A CHASID: The Dripping Hat (Shoftim)

Elul 2, 5774 · August 28, 2014
The Dripping Hat

Be wholesome (‘tamim’) with G-d (18:13)

To be ‘tamim’ with G-d means: Walk with Him with simplicity and without guile. Do not seek to manipulate the future; rather, accept whatever He brings upon you wholeheartedly. Then, He will be with you and you will reap the rewards of His apportionment.

– Rashi’s commentary

When Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi was released from his imprisonment in 1798, there was great rejoicing and celebration. At one of the farbrengens at the Rebbe’s synagogue in Li’ozna, the celebrating chassidim invented a most unique dance: a barrel of vodka was set up in the center of the room, with a dipper at its side; as each chassid passed the barrel, he dipped in for a l’chayim. Round and round swirled the dancers, dip, dip, dip, went the dipper.

Soon the predictable happened: the hat of one of the dancing chassidim took a nose-dive into the barrel. Rabbi Schneur Zalman himself fished out the hat, replaced it on the young man’s head, and quoted: “A hat of salvation upon his head.”1That year, the young chassid became extremely wealthy.

One year later, when the celebration and the dance were repeated, an enterprising young chassid decided to try the hat trick himself. As he passed the barrel, he nonchalantly flipped his hat into its spirited contents. The Rebbe rewarded him with nary a glance…

CHASSIDIC DIMENSION: Two Forms of Witnesses (Shoftim)

Elul 2, 5774 · August 28, 2014
Two Forms of Witnesses

In the Torah portion of Shoftim we learn: “The testimony of one witness does not stand against a person with regard to any sin or iniquity that he may have committed; a case can be established [only] through the testimony of [at least] two or three witnesses.”1

Specifically, there are two categories of witnesses: a) witnesses who verify specific facts or events;2 b) witnesses who were themselves an integral part of the events.3

An example of the first category are witnesses to a loan, whose sole purpose is to verify the deed. They have no part in the legal transaction; even if the loan were transacted without witnesses the borrower is no less obligated to repay the lender.

An example of the second category are witnesses to a marriage; their presence constitutes an integral part of the ceremony itself; according to Jewish law4 a couple cannot become husband and wife without the presence of bonafide witnesses.

These two categories of witnesses, witnesses who verify and witnesses who are an integral part of the event itself, exist within a spiritual context as well.

Scripture states:5 “‘You are My witnesses,’ says the L-rd.” In commenting upon this verse, the Zohar provides two explanations:6 a) “You” refers to the Jewish people; b) “You” refers to heaven and earth, concerning which it is written,7 “Today I call heaven and earth as witnesses before you.”

These two sets of witnesses, the Jewish people and heaven and earth, correspond to the two previously described categories of witnesses in the following manner:

The testimony of witnesses is only germane to a matter that is otherwise concealed; something that is revealed to all does not require witnesses.8

In a spiritual sense this means witnesses are not needed to testify to the fact that G-d provides life, for this is known to all.9 One need but observe the manner in which the universe is conducted and one will readily perceive G-d’s handiwork and the Divine life force that vivifies all creation.

Even with regard to G-dliness that can only be believed in but not perceived, witnesses and testimony are superfluous. For although this degree of G-dliness cannot be grasped intellectually, intellect itself decrees that there are levels of Divinity that go beyond the bonds of intellect. Once a thinking person concludes that G-dliness must permeate this world in order for it to exist, he will eventually realize that the degree of G-dliness that provides this world with life is not the most critical; there are levels that entirely transcend the world and man’s intellect.

Therefore, with regard to this level as well, the testimony of witnesses is not germane, for though this level of G-dliness is not in a state of revelation — it is suprarational — nevertheless, intellect itself demands that it exist. Therefore, this level too falls within the purview of “something that will eventually be revealed to all,” concerning which testimony does not apply.

Testimony and witnesses do, however, apply to G-d’s essence , which is totally concealed from intellect, and indeed is concealed from any revelatory level. Here, witnesses are necessary to reveal His essence. This is accomplished in ways reflecting the two types of witnesses:

The infinite power vested within heaven and earth serves as “ascertaining witnesses” to G-d’s true infinitude; the Jews’ ability to draw down G-d’s essence within this world through their spiritual service is the form of witnessing wherein the witnesses are “witnesses who are an integral part of the event itself.”

Jews are able to accomplish this because they are rooted in G-d’s essence; they are therefore able, through their service of Torah and mitzvos , to draw His Essence into this world.

Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. XIX, pp. 188-196.

Emotions — A Tree of the Field

In the Torah portion Shoftim we are commanded to treat trees with respect, for “Man is a tree of the field.”10 What is the resemblance between the loftiest creature and lowly vegetation?

The special quality of plants and trees lies in their attachment to the earth, the source from whence they derive their existence and nourishment. This is particularly true with regard to trees. Other plant life, such as grain, vegetables, etc., do not exist in such a continually attached state, for they soon wither and die. The fact that trees are able to withstand winter’s frosts and summer’s heat indicates that they have a particularly strong attachment to the earth, an attachment that enables them to endure difficult times and continue to bear fruit.

Man is a microcosm;11 just as the world as a whole is composed of inanimate matter, vegetable matter, animals and men, so too are these qualities to be found within each and every individual.

A person’s emotive traits are likened to vegetation,12 for they embody growth and development. And although intelligence grows as well, intellect also has an “animal” aspect in that it constantly undergoes movement and change, similar to an animal’s ability to roam. Further, man’s emotive traits tend to be self-limiting — a kind person is inevitably gentle, a severe person will almost always deal with others in a stern manner. For this reason too, the emotive traits are likened to vegetation.

Comprehension, however, understands things as they truly are, not as the person wishes them to be. The conclusions drawn from a concept will vary according to the concept itself, leading sometimes to kindness and sometimes to severity.

Just as in the macrocosm, vegetation is unique in its constant unification with its source, so too within man, the emotive powers are always attached to a person’s essence. This also explains why emotional traits and tendencies are so powerful, and why it is so very difficult for a kind person to become severe, etc.

By likening man to “a tree in the field,” the Torah is in effect telling us that the true test of an individual is not so much his intellectual qualities but his emotional ones; it is they that take the measure of the man.13

It follows that man’s labor and toil with regard to self-improvement is to be directed more towards refining his emotional traits than towards refining his mind;14 perfecting and polishing one’s emotive character has the greatest impact on a person’s essence.

In fact, refining one’s emotive traits is deemed to be so important that intellectual comprehension is not considered complete if it does not affect one’s emotions — “Know this day and take [this knowledge] unto your heart.”15

Just as this is so with regard to each individual, so too regarding the Jewish people as a whole:

All Jews are descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, and as such are constantly attached to them and their qualities. The main qualities of the Patriarchs lay not so much in matters of intellect as in emotion,16 for Avraham epitomized kindness and love, Yitzchak severity and fear, Yaakov mercy and beauty — the three traits that encompass the emotional spectrum.17

These sterling qualities — the “trees of the field” — are the birthright of each and every Jew. They must merely be revealed, refined and developed to the greatest possible extent.

Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. XXIV, pp. 115-119.

WEEKLY ALIYOT: Parshat Shoftim

Elul 1, 5774 · August 27, 2014
Shoftim Aliya Summary

General Overview: This week’s reading, Shoftim, addresses fundamental issues pertaining to the leadership of the Jewish people. It begins with a discussion regarding judges, and later discusses the concept of the kings, prophets, and thekohanim (priests). Many commandments are introduced in this weeks reading, including: appointing judges, the obligation to follow Rabbinic Law and the words of the prophets, the obligations of a king, the punishment for perjury, laws of war, and the procedure for dealing with unsolved murders.

First Aliyah: We are commanded to appoint judges in every city of Israel. These judges are instructed to adjudicate fairly. Capital punishment is prescribed for idolatry, and various idolatrous practices are banned. The sacrifices we offer to G‑d must be blemishless. We must follow the rulings of the Sanhedrin, the Rabbinic Supreme Court, and the Oral Law. Refusal to accept the Sanhedrin’s authority is a capital offense.

Second Aliyah: Moses instructs the Israelites to coronate a king after they enter Israel. A Jewish king may not amass an excessive amount of horses, wives, or personal wealth. The king writes for himself two Torah scrolls. One of them remains with him at all times — a constant reminder to remain humble and follow G‑d’s Law.

Third Aliyah: The Kohanim were chosen by G‑d to be His holy servants. They do not receive an inheritance (portion) in the Land of Israel, because “G‑d is their inheritance.” Instead, the Kohanim are the beneficiaries of various priestly gifts; selections of meat from certain sacrifices, as well as tithes from crops and animal shearings.

Fourth Aliyah: Although the Priestly families were divided into many shifts, each serving in the Temple in their designated turn, a Kohen always retains the right to come to the Temple and personally offer his personal sacrifices. This section then contains prohibitions against divination, fortunetelling and similar occult practices. Instead of probing into the future we are commanded to put our faith and trust in G‑d.

Fifth Aliyah: We also have no need for these abovementioned abominable practices because we are blessed with prophets who transmit G‑d’s messages to His people. We are commanded to obey these prophets. This section prescribes the punishments for non-compliance with prophets’ words, as well as for an individual who falsely claims to speak in G‑d’s name. This aliyah then reiterates the command to establish cities of refuge for the inadvertent murderer. Moses commands the Jews to designate six such cities, and when G‑d expands the borders of the land (with the coming of Moshiach) to add another three cities of refuge.

Sixth Aliyah: A minimum of two witnesses are required to secure a conviction in a capital or corporeal punishment case. Individuals who testify falsely are liable to receive the punishment which they sought to have imposed upon their innocent victim. The procedure for battle is outlined in this section. When approaching the battlefield, aKohen addresses the troops, admonishing them not to fear the enemy, and listing the various individuals who are exempt from military duty, such as one who has recently betrothed a woman or built a new home, or a fainthearted and fearful person.

Seventh Aliyah: Before waging battle against an enemy in battle, we are commanded to make a peaceful overture. Only if the enemy does not accept the offer does battle ensue. In the battles against the Canaanite nations, if the enemy does not agree to the peace offer, the Israelites are commanded to completely annihilate them. We are forbidden to cut down fruit-bearing trees while laying siege on a city. The reading closes with the procedure to be followed in the event of an unsolved murder.


PARSHAH PICKS: Leave the Do-Gooders Alone

Elul 1, 5774 · August 27, 2014
General Overview:

This week’s reading, Shoftim, addresses fundamental issues pertaining to the leadership of the Jewish people. It begins with a discussion regarding judges, and later discusses the concept of the kings, prophets, and the kohanim (priests). Many commandments are introduced in this weeks reading, including: appointing judges, the obligation to follow Rabbinic Law and the words of the prophets, the obligations of a king, the punishment for perjury, laws of war, and the procedure for dealing with unsolved murders.

This Week’s Features  

By Levi Avtzon

Deuteronomy 16:18–21:9

“Justice”—the very concept is said to be a Jewish contribution to the world. A glance at this week’s Parshah (equality before the law, due process, protection of criminals from vigilante vengeance, curbs on the behavior of kings, rules and ethics in warfare . . . ) shows why.

The fearless few who throw caution to the wind and heedlessly plunge into every offered challenge are indeed strange exceptions to our race. So where do all our heroes come from?

By Yossy Goldman
We spend our youth building up cynicism, and then we are suddenly expected to make all those big life changes, like marriage and kids, that require faith in our fellow human beings, not to mention in ourselves . . .

By Tova Bernbaum
While no one will argue that man’s psyche is a tabula rasa, the question is: to what extent do we control the choices that we make? Whom can I blame? Where does my choice begin?

By Rochel Holzkenner

Letters and Numbers of Torah – Shoftim

The verse (Deut 17:14) “When you settle in the land… and you say, ‘Let us appoint a king…'” is the basis for the mitzvah for the Jewish people to appoint a monarch. Why is the Hebrew word for “when you settle” (v’yashavta) written with an extra letter “hei” at the end?

Aaron L. Raskin
Watch Watch (36:17)

Studying Rashi: Parshat Shoftim

The Torah says (Deut. 18:13) “Be wholehearted with your G-d” in contrast to those who seek fortune tellers and other ways of knowing the future. Rashi explains that G-d doesn’t want us to probe the future, but to simply accept whatever comes. But aren’t we supposed to be proactive? Doesn’t G-d expect us to do our part as well? How is this to be understood?

By Mendel Kaplan
Watch Watch (52:17)
Study some of the highlights of the weekly Torah portion with insights from various commentaries.

By Elimelech Silberberg
Watch Watch (51:10)
An overview of the weekly Parshah, through the eyes of the many commentators, enriching your understanding of how our great history unfolded.

By Marty Goodman
Download Download   Listen Listen (94:22)
Being a positive prophet; remaining optimistic in the wake of disaster

By Ruvi New
Download Download   Listen Listen (4:31)


Elul 1, 5774 · August 27, 2014
Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9

Moses instructs the people of Israel to appointjudges and law-enforcement officers in every city; “Justice, justice shall you pursue,” he commands them, and you must administer it without corruption or favoritism. Crimes must be meticulously investigated and evidence thoroughly examined — a minimum of two credible witnesses is required for conviction and punishment.

In every generation, says Moses, there will be those entrusted with the task of interpreting and applying the laws of the Torah. “According to the law that they will teach you, and the judgement they will instruct you, you shall do; you shall not turn away from the thing that they say to you, to the right nor to the left.”

Shoftim also includes the prohibitions against idolatry and sorcery; laws governing the appointment and behavior of a king; and guidelines for the creation of “cities of refuge” for the inadvertent murderer. Also set forth are many of the rules of war: the exemption from battle for one who has just married, built a home, planted a vineyardor is “afraid and soft-hearted”; the requirement to offer terms of peace before attacking a city; the prohibition against wanton destruction of something of value, exemplified by the law that forbids to cut down a fruit tree when laying siege (in this context the Torah makes the famous statement “For man is a tree of the field“).

The Parshah concludes with the law of Eglah Arufah – the special procedure to be followed when a person is killed by an unknown murderer and his body is found in a field – which underscores the responsibility of the community and its leaders not only for what they do but also for what they might have prevented fr

TORAH STUDIES: Parshat Shoftim

Elul 1, 5774 · August 27, 2014

In our Sidra we read of the cities of refuge, to which a man who had killed accidentally could flee, find sanctuary and atone. The month of Elul, in which this Sidra is always read, is, in time, what the cities of refuge were in space. It is a month of sanctuary and repentance, a protected time in which a man can turn from the shortcomings of his past and dedicate himself to a new and sanctified future. The Rebbe analyzes an important feature of the cities; they were only to be found in the land of Israel, even though the judges and officers who executed Torah law were to be appointed wherever Jews live. Why does the law extend everywhere, while refuge belongs to the Holy Land? And what does this imply for the month of Elul, our place of spiritual refuge in the calendar of the Jewish year?

1. The Judges and the Refuge

The month of Elul, in a well-known Chassidic comparison, is like a city of refuge.

The Sifri1 interprets the opening verse of our Sidra, “You shall set judges and officers in all your gates” to apply to “all your dwelling-places,” even those outside Israel. It then continues: One might think that cities of refuge were also to exist outside the land of Israel. Therefore the Torah uses the restrictive term “these are the cities of refuge” to indicate that they were to be provided only within Israel.

Nonetheless, the Sifri says2 that someone who committed accidental homicide outside the land of Israel and who fled to one of the cities of refuge would be granted sanctuary there. It was the cities themselves, not the people they protected, that were confined to the land of Israel.

The fact that the Sifri initiates a comparison between the “judges and officers” and the cities of refuge, indicates that they have a relationship to one another. It is this: The judges who applied the law and the officers who executed the sentences, did not aim at retribution, but at the refinement of the guilty. And the aim of the cities of refuge was to impose on the fugitive an atoning3 exile—atonement in the sense of a remorse which effaces4 the crime until he regains his original closeness to G-d’s will. We might then have thought that if this safeguard, this place of atonement, was available in the holy environment of the land of Israel, it would be all the more necessary outside its borders where it was easier to fall into wrongdoing. And yet only judges and officers were to be provided beyond the land of Israel’s borders—only the agents of the law, not its refuge.

2. Past and Future

There are two phases in teshuvah, or repentance. There is remorse over what has been done, and commitment to act differently in the future.5 These are inextricably connected. For the only test of sincere remorse is the subsequent commitment to a better way of life. To be contrite about the past without changing one’s behavior is a hollow gesture.

This is why refuge was found only in Israel. For a man could not atone while clinging to the environment which led him to sin. He might feel remorse. But he would not have taken the decisive step away from his past. For this, he had to escape to the land of Israel, i.e., to holiness. There, on its sanctified earth, his commitment to a better future could have substance.

Judges, however, could be appointed outside the land of Israel. For it is written in Pirkei Avot,6 “Do not judge your fellow-man until you come to his place.” A court which sits in the land of Israel cannot know the trials and temptations which exist outside, or the difficulties of being loyal to one’s faith in a place of exile. The land of Israel is a land where “the eyes of the L-rd your G-d are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.”7 It is a land of Divine grace. One cannot judge a man by its standards if that man lives outside its protection. So judges had to be drawn from the same environment as their defendants. They had not only to know what he had done; they had to experience for themselves the environment which brought him to it.

The Mitteler Rebbe (the second Chabad Rebbe) was once giving private audiences, when he interrupted for some time before continuing. It transpired that a man who had had an audience wanted the Rebbe’s help in setting right a particularly degrading act he had done. The Rebbe explained that one must discover some analogous quality in oneself—on however refined a level—before one can help someone to remedy his sin. His interruption of the audiences had been to attempt to find in himself this point from which he could identify with the sinner.8

It was this principle that lay behind G-d’s command to Moses when the Israelites had made the golden calf: “Go, get thee down, for thy people have dealt corruptly.”9 For at that moment, Moses was inhabiting the spiritual heights of Mt. Sinai, neither eating nor drinking, divorced from the world. The Israelites were degraded through their sin. But by saying “thy people” G-d created a bond between Moses and the people, on the basis of which Moses was able to plead on their behalf.

3. The Refuge and the Sin

Although all the cities of refuge were to be in the land of Israel, they were not all in the same territory. There were the three in the land of Israel proper—the Holy Land. Three were in trans-Jordan, where “manslaughter was common.’’10 And, in the Time to Come “the L-rd your G-d will enlarge your borders”11 three more will be provided, in the newly occupied land.

This means that every level of spirituality has its own refuge, from the relatively lawless trans-Jordan to the Holy Land, and even in the Time to Come. And this is true spiritually as well as geographically. At every stage of a man’s religious life there is the possibility of some shortcoming for which there must be refuge and atonement. Even if he never disobeys G-d’s will, he may still not have done all within his power to draw close to G-d. This is the task of the month of Elul. It is a time of self-examination when each person must ask himself whether what he has achieved was all he could have achieved.12 And if not, he must repent, and strive towards a more fulfilled future. Businessman and scholar, he who has lived in the world and he who has spent his days under the canopy of the Torah—both must make Elul a time of self-reckoning and refuge.

It is the way of the Western world to make Elul—the month of high summer—a time for vacation from study. The opposite should be the case. It is above all the time for self-examination, a time to change one’s life. And the place for this is the city of refuge, in the Holy Land, which means for us, in a place of Torah. Each Jew should set aside Elul, or at least from the 18th onwards (the last 12 days, a day for each month of the year13), or at any rate the days when Selichot are said, and make his refuge in a place of Torah. A refuge is a place to which one flees: That is, where one lays aside one’s past and makes a new home. Elul is the burial of the past for the sake of a better future. And it is the necessary preparation for the blessings of Rosh Hashanah, the promise of plenty and fulfillment in the year to come.

(Source: Likkutei Sichot, Vol. II pp. 380-384)


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