Weekly Torah Portion: Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9)


In this Torah portion, Moses reviews the justice system for the Israelites. Moses talks about the limits future kings should have on their possessions. Moses explains that the priests and levites should not be paid and should survive on donations from the people. Finally, Moses explains the laws of warfare. Read an extensive summary on My Jewish Learning

Related D’var Torah

“We must begin to act as shofetim, judges, to consider ourselves in alignment with our own deeply held values, and begin to consider how we right some of the wrongs we committed this past year in our relationships…” – Rabbi Heather Miller in 2016. Read the full drash

“All of this talk about justice, equality and love makes me think of gay weddings…” – Neil Klasky in 2003. Read the full drash

Torah Verse of the Week*

When in your war against a city you have to besiege it a long time in order to capture it, you must not destroy its trees, wielding the ax against them. You may eat of them, but you must not cut them down. Are trees of the field human to withdraw before you into the besieged city?
(Deuteronomy 20:19)

Other Suggested Readings

Rabbi Zach Shapiro writes about our member Dean who was appointed as a California Superior Court judge: “I shared the words in this week’s Torah portion, Shoftim, which teaches, ‘Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof/Justice, Justice shall you pursue.'” – Read in the Jewish Journal

Justice, Justice shall you pursue… one of the most famous verses in Torah is in this week’s portion. Read from our Telephone Torah Study archive


*Torah Verse of the Week is chosen by the Torah class during Tuesdays’ studies with Rabbi Lisa Edwards. Check out when our next Torah Study takes place

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