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Parshat Shoftim
The Quest for Desirable Governance:
Unveiling the Torah's Call for Political Influence

Parshat Shoftim discusses a principle that is known in the modern legal system as the separation of powers. The Israelite society was to be built upon four governing institutions, each with partial authorities, and their main titles are: King, Judge, Priest, and Prophet. It is understood that these institutions take different forms throughout generations. The king is not always a king; sometimes it can be a parliamentary democracy. It can be a parliament or  any governing body, but it is just one part of the governance. The governance is divided among the king, the judge, the priest, and the prophet.

The question arises: What is the most desirable form of governance? Does the Torah favor a king, or does it not favor a king? To this, the Torah says, "Appoint over you a king like all the nations around you."  It appears to instruct that, only then shall you appoint a king over the Israelite Nation. This means that as the political culture evolves and we see that states governed by a king are more organized than states without a king, then we know that the time has come to appoint a king over ourselves-  like all the nations around us.

And here arises a question: How is it possible that something as central as the form of governance is dependent on the political culture of the nations of the world at that time? The answer is very simple. The very reason that God demanded His people to establish a state and not suffice with the establishment of a cosmopolitan or universal religion is to influence the nations of the world. The central fulcrum that moves matters in this world is the political tool. Therefore, the Torah demanded that Israel establish a political entity, a state. And the purpose of this state is to influence the nations of the world through their states. And one cannot influence the influenced if there is no minimal resemblance between the influencer and the influenced.

This is the reason that the Torah demanded that when we establish a political entity, so that we too be able to influence through the political culture of the world.


More Weekly Portions

Expanding Horizons:
How Jewish Festivals Evolve Beyond Biblical Times

Parashat Emor highlights the high-volume sanctity of times and places, listing key Jewish festivals connected to the Temple as discussed in Leviticus. It addresses how Moses communicated these to the Children of Israel, and introduces long-tail concepts like the addition of festivals beyond the Torah's scope. The narrative links the Menorah and the Temple to new celebrations such as Hanukkah, and connects the showbread ritual to Purim, indicating evolving traditions that continue to sanctify time through historical and divine revelations.

పరిశుద్దతను బయలుపరచుట: ఆధ్యాత్మిక మేల్కొలుపు

పవిత్రంగా ఉండాలనే ఆజ్ఞను పరిశీలిస్తూ, మానవులు తమ పరస్పర చర్యలలో దైవత్వాన్ని అనుకరించాల్సిన అవసరాన్ని నొక్కి చెబుతూ, వ్యాసం దాని సంబంధిత అంశాలను పరిశీలిస్తుంది. ఇది ఇతరులను, తనను తాను మరియు సృష్టికర్తను ప్రేమించడం యొక్క ప్రాముఖ్యతను చర్చిస్తుంది, తాల్ముడిక్ వివరణలు ఈ పరిమాణాల పరస్పర అనుసంధానాన్ని నొక్కిచెప్పడానికి సహాయపడుతున్నాయి. సంపూర్ణ సంబంధాలను పెంపొందించడం ద్వారా, వ్యక్తులు తమ నైతిక విధులను నిర్వర్తించవచ్చు మరియు వారి నైతిక గుర్తింపులలో పరిపూర్ణత యొక్క భావాన్ని పొందవచ్చు.

From Wilderness to Promised Land
The Evolution of Kosher Meat Consumption
[Aharei Mot]

In Parshat Achrei Mot, the Torah restricts meat consumption in the wilderness to prevent idolatry. Only kosher animal sacrifices within the Tabernacle were permitted. Unauthorized slaughter was considered a serious transgression, akin to murder. Upon entering the Land of Israel, the Israelites were allowed to consume "meat of desire" anywhere, symbolizing the expanded sacred space of the Tabernacle and Temple.