Saturday, August 19, 2023

Shoftim - Reading #7

Shoftim שֹׁפְטִים - Judges

Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9

Haftarah: Isaiah 51:12-52:12

Apostolic Reading: John 14:9-20

Reading #7 - Deuteronomy 20:10–21:9

My Thoughts:

This is where the instructions from Hashem get difficult. The Israelites are about to enter the Promised Land and Hashem is instructing them how to take it from the pagan worshipers. All so that, “...that they not teach you to follow all their abominations (verse 20:18).” We may not understand why total cities had to be wiped out, but Hashem has His purposes. This is hard. But, we either believe our one true Elohim knows the Way or He does not. And I believe He does. He does not want His people, and those who join Him -- to be contaminated. He doesn’t want to lose them to false religions. He wants them to only worship Him. And He seems to want to “decontaminate” the Land. It was like He was reclaiming what was His, before evil took it over. Something to study and ponder.


Verses 10-12 describe what seems to be a fair plan of attack for the Israelites in the new Land. They are first to go to the inhabitants and proclaim a peace treaty. However, there is a contingency. If the resident people agree to peace, then they are to become forced laborers for the Israelites. We know from previous Torah verses that slaves were to be treated fairly and generously. I’m sure this was going to be true for these “forced laborers” also. If the people did not agree to a peaceful takeover, then they would be attacked, but spare the livestock, women and children. Everything and everyone else would be wiped out.

I guess my challenge to you today about all of this is to think about your disagreements with others. Do you offer a “peace plan” to them? If we are to glean from today’s study, I think it is important to think about approaching people we are having difficulty with -- with a peaceful approach. Come to them first with kind and generous solutions, instead of “fighting”. An additional challenge. Start thinking about the "Olam Haba" the "World to Come". This will NOT be a place of fighting, killing - sin. It will be a place of total shalom peace. That is hope we have for the future.

Reading #7 - Deuteronomy 20:10–21:9

Deuteronomy 20:10 When you draw near to a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace to it. 11 It shall be, if it gives you answer of peace and opens to you, then it shall be that all the people who are found therein shall become forced laborers to you, and shall serve you. 12 If it will make no peace with you, but will make war against you, then you shall besiege it. 13 When Hashem your Elohim delivers it into your hand, you shall strike every male of it with the edge of the sword; 14 but the women, the little ones, the livestock, and all that is in the city, even all its plunder, you shall take for plunder for yourself. You may use the plunder of your enemies, which Hashem your Elohim has given you. 15 Thus you shall do to all the cities which are very far off from you, which are not of the cities of these nations. 16 But of the cities of these peoples that Hashem your Elohim gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes; 17 but you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, as Hashem your Elohim has commanded you; 18 that they not teach you to follow all their abominations, which they have done for their gods; so would you sin against Hashem your Elohim 19 When you shall besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them; for you may eat of them. You shall not cut them down, for is the tree of the field man, that it should be besieged by you? 20 Only the trees that you know are not trees for food, you shall destroy and cut them down. You shall build bulwarks against the city that makes war with you, until it falls.

21:1 If someone is found slain in the land which Hashem your Elohim gives you to possess, lying in the field, and it isn’t known who has struck him, 2 then your elders and your judges shall come out, and they shall measure to the cities which are around him who is slain. 3 It shall be that the elders of the city which is nearest to the slain man shall take a heifer of the herd, which hasn’t been worked with and which has not drawn in the yoke. 4 The elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a valley with running water, which is neither plowed nor sown, and shall break the heifer’s neck there in the valley. 5 The priests the sons of Levi shall come near, for them Hashem your Elohim has chosen to minister to him, and to bless in Hashem’s name; and according to their word shall every controversy and every assault be decided. 6 All the elders of that city which is nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley. 7 They shall answer and say, “Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it. 8 Forgive, Hashem, your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, and don’t allow innocent blood among your people Israel.” The blood shall be forgiven them. 9 So you shall put away the innocent blood from among you, when you shall do that which is right in Hashem’s eyes.


My Thoughts:

In verse 52:8 we read of a wonderful prophecy, “Your watchmen lift up their voice. Together they sing; for they shall see eye to eye when Hashem returns to Zion.” What a great day will that be when Hashem’s glory reigns from Jerusalem! And how wonderful that mankind will be seeing “eye to eye”. That means they will be in agreement. As far as I can tell, mankind has not been in agreement - ever. This is only what can happen in the Olam Haba. No wonder everyone begins to sing. There will be awesome worship when people are together in unity. How good and pleasant that will be!


What a wonderful promise in verse 52:12, “...for Hashem will go before you; and the Elohim of Israel will be your rear guard.” This is something we can believe in today. That Hashem does go before us, and He is also our rear guard. This is our comfort. He really is ahead of us and behind us. Protecting us wherever we go, and watching “our back”. My challenge to you is to spend a minute thinking about how Hashem watches over you. How at times when you may think He isn’t there, He really is. How He really does care about us and protects us. If you are going through a difficult time or even a good time, praise Him for His care and protection. 

Haftarah: Isaiah 51:12-52:12

“I, even I, am He who comforts you.

    Who are you, that you are afraid of man who shall die,

    and of the son of man who will be made as grass?

13 Have you forgotten Hashem your Maker,

    who stretched out the heavens,

    and laid the foundations of the earth?

Do you live in fear continually all day because of the fury of the oppressor,

    when he prepares to destroy?

    Where is the fury of the oppressor?

14 The captive exile will speedily be freed.

    He will not die and go down into the pit.

    His bread won’t fail.

15 For I am Hashem your Elohiim, who stirs up the sea

    so that its waves roar.

    Hashem of Armies is His name.

16 I have put My words in your mouth

    and have covered you in the shadow of My hand,

that I may plant the heavens,

    and lay the foundations of the earth,

    and tell Zion, ‘You are my people.’”

17 Awake, awake!

    Stand up, Jerusalem,

    you who have drunk from Hashem’s hand the cup of His wrath.

You have drunken the bowl of the cup of staggering,

    and drained it.

18 There is no one to guide her among all the sons to whom she has given birth;

    and there is no one who takes her by the hand among all the sons whom she has brought up.

19 These two things have happened to you—

    who will grieve with you?—

desolation and destruction,

    and famine and the sword.

    How can I comfort you?

20 Your sons have fainted.

    They lie at the head of all the streets,

    like an antelope in a net.

They are full of Hashem’s wrath,

    the rebuke of your Elohim.

21 Therefore now hear this, you afflicted,

    and drunken, but not with wine:

22 Your Hashem Adonai,

    your Elohim who pleads the cause of His people, says,

“Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of staggering,

    even the bowl of the cup of my wrath.

    You will not drink it any more.

23 I will put it into the hand of those who afflict you,

    who have said to your soul, ‘Bow down, that we may walk over you;’

    and you have laid your back as the ground,

    like a street to those who walk over.”

52:1 Awake, awake! Put on your strength, Zion.

    Put on your beautiful garments, Jerusalem, the holy city:

    for from now on the uncircumcised and the unclean will no more come into you.

2 Shake yourself from the dust!

    Arise, sit up, Jerusalem!

    Release yourself from the bonds of your neck, captive daughter of Zion!

3 For Hashem says, “You were sold for nothing;

    and you will be redeemed without money.”

4 For Adonai Hashem says:

“My people went down at the first into Egypt to live there:

    and the Assyrian has oppressed them without cause.

5 “Now therefore, what do I do here,” says Hashem,

    “seeing that my people are taken away for nothing?

Those who rule over them mock,” says Hashem,

    “and My name is blasphemed continually all day long.

6 Therefore my people shall know My name.

    Therefore they shall know in that day that I am he who speaks.

    Behold, it is I.”

7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news,

    who publishes peace,

    who brings good news,

    who proclaims salvation,

    who says to Zion, “Your Elohim reigns!”

8 Your watchmen lift up their voice.

    Together they sing;

    for they shall see eye to eye when Hashem returns to Zion.

9 Break out into joy!

    Sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem;

    for Hashem has comforted his people.

    He has redeemed Jerusalem.

10 Hashem has made His holy arm bare in the eyes of all the nations.

    All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our Elohim.

11 Depart! Depart! Go out from there! Touch no unclean thing!

    Go out from among her!

    Cleanse yourselves, you who carry Hashem’s vessels.

12 For you shall not go out in haste,

    neither shall you go by flight:

for Hashem will go before you;

    and the Elohim of Israel will be your rear guard.

Apostolic Reading

My Thoughts:

In verse 10 we read, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I tell you, I speak not from Myself; but the Father who lives in Me does His works.” Many different Christians have different views on the deity of Yeshua. I believe He is an “emanation” of Hashem. Hashem is Elohim of the universes, of everything. How can we possibly understand Him? So, He generously sends His “only begotten Son” so that we can understand Hashem better. It is almost like He presents us a way to get to know Him and His heart -- through Yeshua. That’s what I believe, what do you believe? 


In verse 15 we read, “If you love Me, keep My Commandments.” That’s pretty simple. Even though the Christian church teaches something different. Yeshua consistently taught Torah, lived Torah and was Torah. If we are to “follow” Yeshua, then that’s what we are to do. You are to follow and obey Torah. It is very clear. And Yeshua always pointed to the Father, and encouraged people to return their hearts to Him. The challenge today is that if you are following Yeshua, then think about committing to Israel and to Torah. Join them. It is all about Hashem and His Torah.

Apostolic Reading: John 14:9-20

14:9 Yeshua said to him, “Have I been with you such a long time, and do you not know me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father. How do you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I tell you, I speak not from Myself; but the Father who lives in Me does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; or else believe Me for the very works’ sake. 12 Most certainly I tell you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and he will do greater works than these, because I am going to my Father. 13 Whatever you will ask in My name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you will ask anything in My name, I will do it. 15 If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Counselor,  that He may be with you forever: 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world can’t receive; for it doesn’t see Him and doesn’t know Him. You know Him, for He lives with you, and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world will see Me no more; but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in Me, and I in you.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Shoftim - Reading #6

Shoftim שֹׁפְטִים - Judges

Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9

Reading #6 - Deuteronomy 19:14–20:9

My Thoughts:

Hashem created a fair and just judicial system and commandments. His people how to utilize this. In verse 20 we read why Hashem is very strict about disobedience to His laws, “Those who remain shall hear, and fear, and will never again commit any such evil among you.” He is setting an example for others. It’s one thing to tell a child the consequences of disobedience but when the punishment is enacted it is clear to the child and his/her siblings the severity of disobeying. It shows everyone what will happen if we do not follow Hashem’s instructions. We know for sure that Hashem loves all of His creation, but it is also clear that He wants the people who follow Him to be dedicated and loyal servants. He is explaining the way to accomplish this. It may seem “harsh” but sometimes harshness is the only way people will listen. Right?


What a wonderful testimony and promise in verse 20:1, “When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses, chariots, and a people more numerous than you, you shall not be afraid of them; for Hashem your Elohim is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” Hashem’s people were about ready to enter the Land of Israel. A place that they had never been before. A land filled with people who followed false gods. As He is laying out the plan to inhabit this land, He makes a promise about being with them every step of the way. Of course, when Hashem calls us to new places and new plans it can be very scary. But, here is a strong promise that when we see problems that feel really big and impossible, that we need to seek His face and ask Him for guidance and protection. If you are facing a “giant” today, ponder on this particular verse. Try and believe that Hashem will be with you through it all. Have faith that Hashem “has your back”! 

Reading #6 - Deuteronomy 19:14–20:9

19:14 You shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which they of old time have set, in your inheritance which you shall inherit, in the land that Hashem your Elohim gives you to possess.

15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin that he sins. At the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall a matter be established. 16 If an unrighteous witness rises up against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, 17 then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before Hashem, before the priests and the judges who shall be in those days; 18 and the judges shall make diligent inquisition; and behold, if the witness is a false witness, and has testified falsely against his brother, 19 then you shall do to him as he had thought to do to his brother. So you shall remove the evil from among you. 20 Those who remain shall hear, and fear, and will never again commit any such evil among you. 21 Your eyes shall not pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

20 When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses, chariots, and a people more numerous than you, you shall not be afraid of them; for Hashem your Elohim iis with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. 2 It shall be, when you draw near to the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak to the people, 3 and shall tell them, “Hear, Israel, you draw near today to battle against your enemies. Don’t let your heart faint! Don’t be afraid, nor tremble, neither be scared of them; 4 for Hashem your Elohim is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.”

5 The officers shall speak to the people, saying, “What man is there who has built a new house, and has not dedicated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it. 6 What man is there who has planted a vineyard, and has not used its fruit? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man use its fruit. 7 What man is there who has pledged to be married to a wife, and has not taken her? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.” 8 The officers shall speak further to the people, and they shall say, “What man is there who is fearful and faint-hearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest his brother’s heart melt as his heart.” 9 It shall be, when the officers have finished speaking to the people, that they shall appoint captains of armies at the head of the people.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Shoftim - Reading #5

Shoftim שֹׁפְטִים - Judges

Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9

Reading #5 - Deuteronomy 18:14–19:13

My Thoughts:

In verses 18 and 19 we read about Hashem telling Moses there will be another prophet like him, “I will raise them up a prophet from among their brothers, like you. I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I shall command him.  It shall happen, that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I will require it of him.” Who is this prophet? Has he arrived? Many people believe Yeshua (Jesus) is this prophet, others Mohammed. Others believe their prophets like Joseph Smith, etc. Hashem provides a “test” for prophets. See if the prophets “words” have come to pass. If not they are a false prophet. Yeshua, I believe is the prophet Hashem is speaking about. He was sent by Hashem, and He spoke words that Hashem gave to Him. Some of His words came to pass like the Temple being torn down. Other words did not have “cut off” dates and have not happened yet, like the resurrection of the dead in the Olam Haba. Who do you believe to be this prophet like Moses that Hashem is speaking about? Search your heart, and search Scripture. And pray that Hashem shows you.


In verse 10 we read, “This is so that innocent blood will not be shed in the middle of your land which Hashem your Elohim gives you for an inheritance, leaving blood guilt on you.” Killing innocent people brings blood on the land -- and blood guilt. You may think you support abortion in your community, but you may want to look at it more seriously. Abortion literally takes the life of an innocent preborn child. Aborted babies are either flushed down toilets, ground up in garbage disposals or buried in landfills (except for those who are sold for experimentation or pharmaceutical companies). Does that mean our land has “blood guilt” from this atrocity? My challenge to you today is to spend some time contemplating this. If you believe like I do, I suggest you look into helping to stop abortion in your community. There is a new movement of “sanctuary cities for the unborn”. Go to: Just as in this portion, Hashem is helping people to provide sanctuary cities for babies yet to be born. How exciting is this? Pray about becoming involved!

Reading #5 - Deuteronomy 18:14–19:13

18:14 For these nations that you shall dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery and to diviners; but as for you, Hashem your Elohim has not allowed you so to do. 15 Hashem your Elohim will raise up to you a prophet from among you, of your brothers, like me. You shall listen to him. 16 This is according to all that you desired of Hashem your Elohim in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, “Let me not hear again Hashem my Elohim’s voice, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I not die.”

17 Hashem said to me, “They have well said that which they have spoken. 18 I will raise them up a prophet from among their brothers, like you. I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I shall command him. 19 It shall happen, that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I will require it of him. 20 But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.”

21 You may say in your heart, “How shall we know the word which Hashem has not spoken?” 22 When a prophet speaks in Hashem’s name, if the thing doesn’t follow, nor happen, that is the thing which Hashem has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You shall not be afraid of him.

19 When Hashem your Elohim cuts off the nations whose land Hashem your Elohim gives you, and you succeed them and dwell in their cities and in their houses, 2 you shall set apart three cities for yourselves in the middle of your land, which Hashem your Elohim gives you to possess. 3 You shall prepare the way, and divide the borders of your land which Hashem your Elohim causes you to inherit into three parts, that every man slayer may flee there. 4 This is the case of the man slayer who shall flee there and live: Whoever kills his neighbor unintentionally, and didn’t hate him in time past— 5 as when a man goes into the forest with his neighbor to chop wood and his hand swings the ax to cut down the tree, and the head slips from the handle and hits his neighbor so that he dies—he shall flee to one of these cities and live. 6 Otherwise, the avenger of blood might pursue the man slayer while hot anger is in his heart and overtake him, because the way is long, and strike him mortally, even though he was not worthy of death, because he didn’t hate him in time past. 7 Therefore I command you to set apart three cities for yourselves. 8 If Hashem enlarges your border, as he has sworn to your fathers, and gives you all the land which he promised to give to your fathers; 9 and if you keep all this commandment to do it, which I command you today, to love Hashem your Elohim, and to walk ever in his ways, then you shall add three cities more for yourselves, in addition to these three. 10 This is so that innocent blood will not be shed in the middle of your land which Hashem your Elohim gives you for an inheritance, leaving blood guilt on you. 11 But if any man hates his neighbor, lies in wait for him, rises up against him, strikes him mortally so that he dies, and he flees into one of these cities; 12 then the elders of his city shall send and bring him there, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. 13 Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall purge the innocent blood from Israel that it may go well with you.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Shoftim - Reading #4

Shoftim שֹׁפְטִים - Judges

Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9

Reading #4 - Deuteronomy 18:6–13

My Thoughts:

Today we learn that Hashem says, “you shall not learn to imitate the abominations of those nations (verse 9)”. How would they learn to imitate? If they stayed in their own communities and celebrated, worshiped and worked together -- there would be no chance of imitation. It only happened when they went outside of their community. Isn’t that what happens to us? If we go outside the “circle” of our close friends and family, church or synagogue, and hang out with other people we are super susceptible to be influenced by others behaviors. When I was young and I hung out with this certain “crowd” -- I did things I would never do with the people close to me. I was imitating the bad habits of others. How do we avoid this happening to us? Stay close in your own community and only wander out if you have a purpose and a plan (like helping out someone for a short time). Yes, we are to love our neighbors, serve them and be a light to them. But, be careful how you choose your "friends" that are in the "world" and what you do with them. Guard your heart and keep your eyes on Him!


A long time ago I was on a road trip with my sister. She doesn’t have a formal “belief system”, but I do believe even back then that she knows Hashem. We were talking about her going to a fortune teller. I told her that Hashem says that by doing this she was an abomination to G-d. She was shocked and wanted to know where in the Bible it said this. I read these verses in today’s portion, “ who uses divination, one who tells fortunes, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or someone who consults with a familiar spirit, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For whoever does these things is an abomination to Hashem.” (Verses 10-12) When she heard me quote Torah, she immediately reacted and said, “Well, I didn’t know that. I will never go again!” And to my knowledge she never has. The written Word of Elohim is powerful. It spoke right into her heart and immediately changed her mind. My challenge to you today is to do what I did. If you know of someone who is involved with any of these kinds of people -- quote them these verses. You never know, it may literally change their lives. And their relationship with Hashem.

Reading #4 - Deuteronomy 18:6–13

6 If a Levite comes from any of your gates out of all Israel where he lives, and comes with all the desire of his soul to the place which Hashem shall choose, 7 then he shall minister in the name of Hashem his Elohim, as all his brothers the Levites do, who stand there before Hashem. 8 They shall have like portions to eat, in addition to that which comes from the sale of his family possessions.

9 When you have come into the land which Hashem your Elohim gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the abominations of those nations. 10 There shall not be found with you anyone who makes his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who tells fortunes, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer, 11 or a charmer, or someone who consults with a familiar spirit, or a wizard, or a necromancer. 12 For whoever does these things is an abomination to Hashem. Because of these abominations, Hashem your Elohim drives them out from before you. 13 You shall be blameless with Hashem your Elohim.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Shoftim - Reading #3

Shoftim שֹׁפְטִים - Judges

Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9

Reading #3 - Deuteronomy 18:1–5

My Thoughts:

Think about this. The only “inheritance” the Levites receive is Hashem (verse 2) - and serving and loving Him! Can you imagine this in your life? Not needing land, or houses or worrying about purchasing food. Your job would be to serve Hashem in the Temple. And everything else would be provided! And the very best part is that He would be all that you need! Isn’t that true for us today? Isn’t He all that we need? Yes we have to have jobs to make money and houses to live in. But truly when it comes down to it all -- Hashem is our all in all. Let’s remember that today!


With today’s reading we should be thinking about those people around us who spend their lives serving Hashem. Whether they are Jewish or another religion, they are doing what Hashem has called them to do and they should be financially supported. My challenge to you today is to think about who is either in your life or your community that is serving Hashem full time in ministry. A rabbi or pastor or spiritual leader needs support. Pray and ask Hashem who you should support. You will be blessed in return. Amen. 

Reading #3 - Deuteronomy 18:1–5

18:1 The priests and the Levites—all the tribe of Levi—shall have no portion nor inheritance with Israel. They shall eat the offerings of Hashem made by fire and His portion. 2 They shall have no inheritance among their brothers. Hashem is their inheritance, as He has spoken to them. 3 This shall be the priests’ due from the people, from those who offer a sacrifice, whether it be ox or sheep, that they shall give to the priest: the shoulder, the two cheeks, and the inner parts. 4 You shall give him the first fruits of your grain, of your new wine, and of your oil, and the first of the fleece of your sheep. 5 For Hashem your Elohim has chosen him out of all your tribes to stand to minister in Hashem’s name, him and his sons forever.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Shoftim - Reading #2

Shoftim שֹׁפְטִים - Judges

Deuteronomy 16:18-21:

Reading #2 - Deuteronomy 17:14–20

My Thoughts:

Hashem knew Israel would want a human king over their land. So, Hashem gives them the instructions for doing so. Particularly that the king would not be able to send them back to Egypt. That’s a promise. And that is the same Hashem we serve today. He has delivered us from a past of hurt and sin (our Egypt) and He does not want anyone taking us back there. There is only one requirement from Him that we acknowledge and that is to fear Him and follow His Torah. This message is repeated all throughout Torah. That is how important it is. 


The king is required to read the Torah all the days of his life. He is even challenged to copy it! Here is a different kind of challenge for you today. As we approach a new Torah cycle in a few weeks, buy yourself a little notebook. Then every day, record something out of the Torah portion daily reading. Pick out something that really strikes you as important. Copy the Torah. Maybe not the whole thing, but let’s start with a verse or two every day. It seems like this would really bless us beyond belief! Get ready and get prepared to do this in the new Torah reading year. It will happen right after Sukkot. Let us choose to bless Hashem with writing down His Torah, and in return we will be blessed. Amen!

Reading #2 - Deuteronomy 17:14–20

17:14 When you have come to the land which Hashem your Elohim gives you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, “I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,” 15 you shall surely set him whom Hashem your Elohim chooses as king over yourselves. You shall set as king over you one from among your brothers. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16 Only he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he may multiply horses; because Hashem has said to you, “You shall not go back that way again.” 17 He shall not multiply wives to himself, that his heart not turn away. He shall not greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.

18 It shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write himself a copy of this law in a book, out of that which is before the Levitical priests. 19 It shall be with him, and he shall read from it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear Hashem his Elohim to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them; 20 that his heart not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he not turn away from the commandment to the right hand, or to the left, to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children, in the middle of Israel.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Shoftim - Reading #1

Shoftim שֹׁפְטִים - Judges

Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9

Reading #1 - Deuteronomy 16:18–17:13

My Thoughts:

Today is all about the Israeli judicial court system. They were to go to the priests and the judge, listen to them and do what they say. There must be at least two witnesses with an offense. It’s all about fairness. We may think it super harsh to enforce a death penalty, but remember they are entering a land filled with paganism. Hashem wants to protect them against this. And to set an example. It is His decision that He wanted to do things this way. In this particular time, life and death were handled quite differently than today. His desire has and will always be that people follow after Him and NOT after false gods. And that is what we desire to do also. Amen.


We are told in verse 19 “you shall not pervert justice”. Taking bribes or favors to help a guilty person to be freed is not allowed. As it is not allowed in our United States judicial system.  However, that does not mean that it is not happening. Look at our lobbyists that so influence our lawmakers. Money and promises during election years determine support for potential candidates. Our justice system is “perverted” every day. In our system if the accused (defendant) in a case has money and influence, it is likely he/she will win the case. The less advantaged person who does not have money will have a totally different type of trial and likely get sentenced whether guilty or not guilty. Yes in the USA our judicial system has its “roots” in the Judeo-Christian teachings, but what really happens when someone goes to court can be a different story. My challenge to you today is to do your part to help defend those who are defenseless. Hashem will show you who they are and how you can help them. And if you can be someone who can be a part of encouraging justice in our court system, then I pray Hashem will help you to do so. Let’s each do what Hashem enables us to do to be sure people are treated fairly and our constitutional rights are protected. Amen.

Reading #1 - Deuteronomy 16:18–17:13

16:18 You shall make judges and officers in all your gates, which Hashem your Elohim gives you, according to your tribes; and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. 19 You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality. You shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous. 20 You shall follow that which is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which Hashem your Elohim gives you. 21 You shall not plant for yourselves an Asherah of any kind of tree beside Hashem your Elohim’s altar, which you shall make for yourselves. 22 Neither shall you set yourself up a sacred stone which Hashem your Elohim hates.

17:1 You shall not sacrifice to Hashem your Elohim an ox or a sheep in which is a defect or anything evil; for that is an abomination to Hashem your Elohim

2 If there is found among you, within any of your gates which Hashem your Elohim gives you, a man or woman who does that which is evil in Hashem your Elohim’s sight in transgressing His covenant, 3 and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun, or the moon, or any of the stars of the sky, which I have not commanded, 4 and you are told, and you have heard of it, then you shall inquire diligently. Behold, if it is true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is done in Israel, 5 then you shall bring out that man or that woman who has done this evil thing to your gates, even that same man or woman; and you shall stone them to death with stones. 6 At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death. At the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. 7 The hands of the witnesses shall be first on him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall remove the evil from among you.

8 If there arises a matter too hard for you in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within your gates, then you shall arise, and go up to the place which Hashem your Elohim chooses. 9 You shall come to the priests who are Levites and to the judge who shall be in those days. You shall inquire, and they shall give you the verdict. 10 You shall do according to the decisions of the verdict which they shall give you from that place which Hashem chooses. You shall observe to do according to all that they shall teach you. 11 According to the decisions of the law which they shall teach you, and according to the judgment which they shall tell you, you shall do. You shall not turn away from the sentence which they announce to you, to the right hand, nor to the left. 12 The man who does presumptuously in not listening to the priest who stands to minister there before Hashem your Elohim, or to the judge, even that man shall die. You shall put away the evil from Israel. 13 All the people shall hear and fear, and do no more presumptuously.