This week’s portion discusses the following topics: appointment of Judges, Asherah, blemished sacrifices, punishment for idol worship, Supreme Court, appointing a king, Levite’s portion, priestly portions, special festival services, a true prophet, refugee cities, murder, settlers boundaries, witnesses, preparing for war, taking captives, conducting a siege and an unsolved murder.
What were the Jewish people commanded to do in this Torah portion?
To appoint for themselves judges and police officers.
Why should police officers be appointed?
Officers are needed to enforce the rulings of the courts and judges.
Who will these judges & officers oversee?
Judges and officers should be appointed for your tribes and settlements.
What was the reasoning of appointing judges to each tribe?
Since members of one tribe may not go to the court of another.
Why does it say settlements also?
Even if there are two tribes in a city each must have its own court.
Both city courts and tribal courts are needed.
That wherever a tribe has it’s settlements they are mandated to have judges (courts of law).
What kind of judges should be appointed?
Judges that will administer honest judgment for the people of each tribe.
What are the rules for these judges?
1. Don’t bend justice (do not give special consideration to anyone).
2. Do not take bribes (since bribery makes the wise people blind and perverts their words).
3. Guide yourself to look for the honesty (so that you will live and occupy the land of Israel that
G-d is giving you).
What would happen if these courts were unable to make a decision?
The case would come before the Supreme Court.
Who was on the Supreme Court?
Levitical priests. That both should preferably be members of the Supreme Court.
(Why priests? because the community supported them and could devote their entire time to Torah (Bible) study)
In order for the court to have full authority the priesthood must be functioning.
By tradition the Supreme Court is speaking about the council of 70 elders.
The first of which was appointed by Moses. In talmaudical times this court was known as the Sanhedrin. This court also had legislative powers.
What kind of disputes went before the Supreme Court?
If a court was unable to reach a decision involving capital punishment cases involving blood (literally blood or that involving the laws of family purity),
Litigation, leprous marks (damages for injury or nega), or any other case in which their was a dispute.
What rules were given to the people who appeared before these courts?
This is a decision given from a place G-d has chosen.
You must do as they tell you and carefully follow the courts every decision.
One must keep the Torah as the courts interpret it for you and follow the laws that they legislate for you.
You should not stray to the right or left from the word that they declare to you.
What would happen if a Judge didn’t listen to the priest or other judges? Acts in haughtiness
Than the man must be put to death.
Why does G-d remind the Jewish people not to worship other gods?
Because, the Jewish people drove out nations that were stick diviners and astrologers. This is repulsive to G-d. The previous nations would pass their son or daughter through fire. We have a court of laws that will explain to the masses that passing children through fire will not appease our G-d or forgive us for our sins to mankind. The sun and moon signs do not tell us that our future is bleak or grand. Man is given the opportunity to make decisions. We have the opportunity to change our future because man is given free choice. So many stories are being related today about how many people were suppose to be 9/11 at work but due to a mitzvah (deed) or some other even they were not at work. Our rules and obligations are spelled out in the bible and through guidance from rabbis. Today we have community members and other people that reach out to assist in giving each other guidance and support in solving issues of dispute amongst friends and family. People may see a few minute conversation with a friend as an answer to their pivotal issues at hand. Those few minutes may have given them an idea of how to handle a crises that could have ended differantly. That conversation will have now ended with an apology or a different closing remark. Friends, Rabbis and Teachers can give us ideas of how to handle small issues before it comes to something destructive. We need to reach out and contact Jewish agencies to assist with related issues. We are given opportunities to talk out our situation before they become futile. The concept is related to how the court system was arranged and the type of people who were involved: honest and g-d fearing people. An issue started off on a simple level nearby courts (tribal) with simple issues and than worked its way up to the supreme.
How do you know a prophet is acting in G-d’s name?
If the predictions of this prophet does not materialize or come true then the message was not spoken by G-d.