Former Shaliach, Kansas City (2002-03)
Currently Director of Marketing and Sales at travelinsuranceisrael.com and Groups Facilitator at Gesher
Shoftim Vshotrim Titen Lecha B'chol Shaareicha
The torah commands us to put Judges and guards at the entrance to all of our gates.
The Mei Hashilocach gives us a deep understanding of this passuk. He says: you should place judges and guards at the entrance to all of your physical gates: Your eyes, your mouth, your ears – all the openings to your body. You should judge and guard every word that is spoken; before opening the gate of your mouth judge the words that you are about to say. Guard your mouth from saying the wrong thing. Make sure your eyes are looking in the right places. Judge how you look at others. Make sure you are looking at people with a good eye.
The parsha ends with the story of "egla arufa" someone was killed outside the city and all the elders of the city have to come out and say – our hands have not spilled this blood. Rashi asks the question: "How could anyone think that the righteous elders of the city spilled the blood of an innocent person? He answers: "they obviously did not spill the blood of this innocent person. However, perhaps we didn't feed him enough. Maybe we didn't open our homes enough to this stranger passing through our community.
What is the connection between the beginning and the end of the Parsha? Both of these commandments are given when we enter the land of Israel. Why not while we are in exile? In exile our communities are secluded and enclosed. We can open our homes and our gates to other people. But we can only do that minimally since we are only guests in someone else's country. When we enter the land of Israel we are responsible for all of the people who come through our cities and our gates.
As the shift in world Jewry is moving away from the exile and returning back to Israel we are faced with many challenges and questions that we haven't faced for centuries. Initially, we are tasked with the question – how are we treating our fellow Jews? Are we still living in fear of how people that think differently than myself might affect my lifestyle and therefore we choose to ignore and not speak to other people that have a different view of Judaism and religion? That is not the way that will bring us closer together. We must open our eyes and our hearts to other people there is a lot we can learn from the exposure to people that think differently than us.
The question isn't only internal – the homeland of the Jewish people isn't perfect yet. We are on the way. However, there are many issues that we face as a nation. One of these issues that have been brought up in recent years is the sale of weapons to countries that are using them for horrible atrocities. Can we all stand up and say that our hands have not spilled this blood?
On the one hands these sort of questions can be very difficult. On the other hand it really gives us a lot of hope. After 2,000 years of living in exile we are once again a nation with a homeland. As we enter the month of Elul we have an opportunity as a nation to do Teshuva – to really return to our roots. To be a light onto the nations. We can be that nation that shows the world how we get a long with one another and how we have the true moral values to stand up to evil and do good. May this new year that is approaching open up a year of understanding and caring towards others and towards ourselves.
Shana Tova and Shabbat Shalom