Musings of an Orthodox Jew

Thoughts on Torah and the Jewish world today.

An apology for my lack of attention and a bit on Parshas shoftim

I have been sadly remiss in keeping up to date with posting here.  My apologies, and I will enedeavor to do better!  My excuse?  I have taken up laining for a shul and the time I would have spent on posting and preparing something on the Parsha has been taken up with preparing the laining each weak.  So, I am coming to gips with the load and find myself having time available.

Last week, I lained for a small community where they struggle for a minyan and the person that normally runs services etc was away.  This meant that it wasn’t nly laining required, but also being the shaliach tzibur and giveng a couple of droshas.  What I spoke about on Shabbos morning is something that has always fascinated me- the Eglah Arufah.  For thos ewho don’t know what I am tlaking about- here is a short summary of the Eglah Arufah:  A body is found dead in the fields.  Who killed him is unknown and there is no way fo finding out who the killer is.  The members of the Sanhedrin come down from Jerusalem, and together with the elders and judges form the nearby towns measure the distance to the closest town.  The elders from that town then sacrifice an unblemished calf that has never done any work, in a valley in an area that has never been worked, and make the declaration “Our eyes did not see this deed, our hands did not do this deed.  Let this calf be an atonement for Yisrael”

What I find so fascinating with this is the fact that there is no one who actually suspects the elders/judges from that city.  Yet the Sanhedrin comes down to oversee the process.  IN the Talmud, Masechta Sotah the debate is over how many members of the Sanhedrin come down- the entire 70 members or only a few necessary experts.  Clearly what is happening here is a dramatic event!  One way to look at it is to think of the opening of each chapter in Masechta Avot  (Pirkei Avot):  “All of Israel is responsible one for each other.”  What is going on here is that the elders. judges, the Sanhedrin are essentially stating that they have done their duty- they have not neglected teaching the people their responsibilities in ensuring that the populace understands this important lesson.  The elders of the city are saying that if they had seen the person, he would have been welcomed and looked after- if they had had the opportunity, they would have sent peopel to escort him and thus help to avoid the danger of robbers on the road that would be looking out for single travellers leaving their cities to target.  The Sanhedrin is declaring their concern and showing how mportant this mitzvah is for all of us.

It can hardly be coincidental that we read this in Elul.  Here we are- looking at ourselves, at improving ourselves and elevating ourselves.  We al know how to be ntrospective and to lok for our failings.  We all know to go to friends, neighbors, colleagues etc and seek forgiveness for any wrong doing- but how much do we focus on the community on Tikkun Olam?  Th eglah arufah is a stark reminder that our responsibility to the community is important- the entire workings of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem would come to a halt for however long it took then to travel, measure the distances, and carry out the sacrifice.  Thus the entirety of the Jewish Nation would be affected by the death of this one individual.  An important lesson on how we need to value each and every soul in the community- and to consider them, and how we can have a positive impact on our communities as we prepare for the Yamim Noraim.

September 10, 2008 Posted by | Other Torah, Parshah | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment