Sedra of the week: Shoftim

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Sedra of the week: Shoftim

Barnet rebbetzin Shoshana Landau looks ahead to this week's portion of the torah

The concept of a Jewish sovereign is introduced in this week’s parsha as the Jewish people are poised on the cusp of entering what will become their homeland. 

Only recently enslaved and homeless, we are about to become a nation state, a geopolitical entity with autonomous rulership. It will take several generations until the first of the kings of Israel is in place, but the dream is introduced as a benevolent concession from the ultimate King. 

God recognises that the human desire for hierarchy will propel us to demand a sovereign ‘like all of the surrounding nations’, and so provides guidelines for a possible Jewish sovereign. The monarch must come from within the Jewish nation and culture, and not be a foreigner. 

 They should not have an obvious focus on wealth or seek too much fortune outside of monarchic duties. They are cautioned against seeking excessive marital attachments, but should be a paragon of morality, commitment and dedication. They must also have their own Torah constantly to hand – a spiritual compass that travels with them. ­Everything they do must be imbued and directed by the laws and morals of the Torah, the word of God. 

In a nutshell, the monarch should be constantly oriented towards spirituality, with limited excesses and distractions, and with a sensitivity and kinship towards their subjects. 

When we look to our country’s Queen and all she represents – a symbol of this country’s culture, a lifetime of commitment to her marriage and relationships, unshakeable alignment to her religious values and morals – we witness that a functioning monarchy even in the modern day has echoes of the model described in the Torah. 

Wholesomeness and integrity like this shines even in the face of challenging familial or political environments.

  •  Shoshana Landau is rebbetzin of Barnet United Synagogue

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