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President's Message: Shoftim

Dear friends,

Shoftim, this week's Parsha, deals with, among other things, the qualities of Judges, the conduct of war, and, somewhat paradoxically, what to do about an anonymous corpse found on the road. 

It is by no means a revolutionary idea, but I've been amazed every week how relevant the Parsha and its lessons are to me. Rabbi Kamenetsky, in his Drash when looking at the phrase “do not stray from the path of their counsel, neither to the left nor to the right," talks about perspective. 

While it should be obvious to anyone which way is left and which way is right, his point is that it depends on where we stand. We are often sure of ourselves because we believe in our perspective. We need our sages to tell us where 'true north' is before we can appreciate the truth. 

It is too easy to believe interpretation and conjecture as fact. It is too easy to fall into that trap. In dealing with others, this Drash exhorts us to see the view from other viewpoints, but a second commentary, by Rabbi Naftali Reich, goes further. 

In his comments on the abandoned corpse, Rabbi Reich wonders why this chapter is here at all. He answers by pointing out that this chapter is placed within the laws of warfare. War dehumanizes. Many people die and we see the total devastation. But the Torah teaches us that not only is every soldier a person and someone's child and sibling or parent … but that even the abandoned corpse on the road is the responsibility of someone.  The elders of the closest town have to bring sacrifices.  His death does not go unnoticed.  All of Israel is responsible one for each other. 

It is harder to go off the path if we live our lives seeing things through the perspective of others, and knowing in our hearts that we are all ultimately responsible for each other. For the complete texts click Left and Right and Life Is Not Cheap. 

• • • 

We're getting closer to the Holidays, and while it may seem calm in Shul, behind the scenes, a lot of arrangements are taking place.  We will once again be outside in a tent or both Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.  We will have our Baal Koreh, Rabbi Shushan, leading us in Shacharit and Chazzan Goodman will be leading us for Kol Nidre, Mussaf and Neilah. The schedule of daveneing, and the dinner information on dinners and other events can all be found on the Shul website and the flyers that are going out.

Further out, there are Sukkot events that are being planned, as well as the Israel lecture series. Hebrew School enrollment is in full swing and Rabbi Yankel and Yael Raskin are looking forward to beginning the new school year. Again, all of the information is on the website.

I'd like to wish a Refuah Shlema to all those in our community who require it.  I'm happy to report that Phil Kamaras and his daughter, Sarah, are B"H continuing to recover well.  Our prayers and good wishes go out to them both.

Wishing you all a peaceful and meaningful Shabbat Shalom and Shanah Tova.

Steven Inker

Wed, March 22 2023 29 Adar 5783