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Parshat Shoftim-We are all kings ….

Parshat Shoftim, presents the laws relevant to the king of Israel.  It speaks of the appointment of a king and the numerous restrictions placed on him. Among the mitzvot applicable to every Israelite is the obligation to write a copy of the Torah for his personal use. The Israelite king is additionally enjoined to write a Sefer Torah and keep it with him at all times (Sanhedrin 21b). The first Sefer Torah remained in the palace, while the other accompanied the king wherever he went.

 

Why were two distinct Sifrei Torah necessary? Why couldn’t the king simply keep one Sefer Torah with him at all times, in and out of the palace?

 

One explanation might be that his encounter with the realities of public service would symbolically leave its mark on the Torah he carries with him, it would not be nearly as fresh and perfect as the Sefer Torah kept in his palace. Invariably, the Sefer Torah that he carried with him would suffer from the wear-and-tear of political life. The wish to compromise, to turn a blind eye to wrongs, to avoid conflicts for the sake of expediency. The message of the second untarnished Sefer Torah is the preservation of the lofty ideals which might have become tarnished by the hustle and bustle of the king’s daily challenges and experiences. When retreating to his palace, the king must pull out a much different Sefer Torah, untouched which can always be a control for him.

 

At different stages of life, people embark on various journeys and begin various enterprises with a grand vision, idealistic goals and expectations, and lofty aspirations. A person enters marriage, a career, and other of life’s turning points with the highest ideals and plans in mind. Generally, when the individual encounters the realities of life his/her ideals may become tarnished. The message of the second Sefer Torah is the need to preserve the lofty principles that practical concerns threaten to block from one’s vision.

 

We are all kings in this matter and have to have a control to compare our actual practice with our tarnished ideals to remind us of them so that we do not betray our ideals and retain. at least a passing connection to the person we used to or hoped to be.

 presents the laws relevant to the king of Israel.  It speaks of the appointment of a king and the numerous restrictions placed on him. Among the mitzvot applicable to every Israelite is the obligation to write a copy of the Torah for his personal use. The Israelite king is additionally enjoined to write a Sefer Torah and keep it with him at all times (Sanhedrin 21b). The first Sefer Torah remained in the palace, while the other accompanied the king wherever he went.

 

Why were two distinct Sifrei Torah necessary? Why couldn’t the king simply keep one Sefer Torah with him at all times, in and out of the palace?

 

One explanation might be that his encounter with the realities of public service would symbolically leave its mark on the Torah he carries with him, it would not be nearly as fresh and perfect as the Sefer Torah kept in his palace. Invariably, the Sefer Torah that he carried with him would suffer from the wear-and-tear of political life. The wish to compromise, to turn a blind eye to wrongs, to avoid conflicts for the sake of expediency. The message of the second untarnished Sefer Torah is the preservation of the lofty ideals which might have become tarnished by the hustle and bustle of the king’s daily challenges and experiences. When retreating to his palace, the king must pull out a much different Sefer Torah, untouched which can always be a control for him.

 

At different stages of life, people embark on various journeys and begin various enterprises with a grand vision, idealistic goals and expectations, and lofty aspirations. A person enters marriage, a career, and other of life’s turning points with the highest ideals and plans in mind. Generally, when the individual encounters the realities of life his/her ideals may become tarnished. The message of the second Sefer Torah is the need to preserve the lofty principles that practical concerns threaten to block from one’s vision.

 

We are all kings in this matter and have to have a control to compare our actual practice with our tarnished ideals to remind us of them so that we do not betray our ideals and retain. at least a passing connection to the person we used to or hoped to be.

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