Deuteronomy 16:18 - 21:9

Isaiah 51:12 - 52:12

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.

FULL SUMMARY

Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue

Justice, expressed in Parshat Shoftim, is one of the eternal religious obligations of Judaism.

More on this Torah Portion

It’s Not Fair

Shoftim: A Resource for Families

Humanity in Wartime

War and peace--and the difficulties with both--are the subjects of Parashat Shoftim.

Parashat Shoftim Quiz

Learn more about the weekly Torah portion.

The Death Penalty

Is there ever justice in capital punishment?

Separation of Powers

The Torah provides a model for separating religious, judicial, and governing bodies--to keep power in check.

Wasteful Destruction

Judaism possesses the values on which an ecological morality may be grounded.

We Are All Judges

In the contemporary Jewish community, judging goes beyond adjudicating.

Engage All Texts

At a time when Jewish influence has increased, how do we approach unethical commandments?

Never Return to Egypt

Resisting the temptation to return, geographically or psychologically, to the site of our bondage

A Home Of Our Own: From Soweto To The Suburbs

The prohibition against encroaching on your neighbor's land teaches us that our own expansion and success must not compromise the success of others.

Pursuing Justice For All

True justice balances the needs of a whole group, rather than just the individual.

Balance Of Power

The Torah takes care to limit the power of both the kingship and the priesthood, the formal institutions of leadership and governance in ancient Israel.

To Be Holy For God You Have To Be Wholly For God

The commandment to be wholehearted with God requires us to devote our entire beings sincerely to God.

Justice And Communal Responsibility

The instructions to pursue justice and practice communal responsibility should motivate us to constantly improve our efforts to alleviate the crises that affect our people.

Parashat Shoftim: Summary

Moses reviews for the Israelites their system of justice, the rules of kingship, their relationship to idolatrous nations, and the rules of doing battle.

Wary Of War

The understanding that Israelite troops were addressed on two different occasions before they entered war reflects the idea that our reactions to war often depend on its imminence.

The Emergence Of Environmentalism

From the commandment not to cut down trees in war, we derive the prohibition against the careless destruction of nature.

Interpretive Independence

The Torah expects us to be our own autonomous interpreters of divine will, turning to Jewish legal experts only when we reach our limits of understanding.