Week 28 AV (August 20) – Shabbat 4 Elul (August 26)
Shoftim (Deuteronomy) 16:18 — 21:9
Haftarat: Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 51:12 — 52:12
As Moses continues to flush out G-d’s plan for a Torah based society in the land of Israel, one thing becomes crystal clear: The Holy Temple from which shines forth the Divine presence, (Shechina), is the light and the source of justice – how we treat our fellow man, and worship – how we stand before G-d. We cannot achieve justice between men if we do not stand before G-d, and we cannot stand before G-d if we do not seek justice between men.
The great concern Torah evinces for an unsolved murder, as in the case of the ‘axed calf’ is a harsh contrast to the laws of warfare which precede it and call upon all Israelite warriors to be fearless and merciless when fighting a divinely mandated war. Yet there is no contradiction between these seemingly disparate commandments. On the contrary, it is because Torah holds up and sanctifies the life of every individual that we must be unsparing when fighting enemies who seek our destruction.