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Shoftim 5759

Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING! When I was in the Israeli army (I lived in Israel for 15 years before coming to Miami 9 years ago), I was posted to a tank base and assigned to inventory the bolts, nuts, screws and washers. I energetically attacked the job with vim and vigor. The Israelis I was working with were grumbling as we worked and finally one of them asked me, "How come you're so happy
having to sit here all day counting parts?" I answered, "For three reasons: 1) I am not standing out in the sun for 14 hours doing guard duty 2) 'For want of a nail the kingdom was lost' (I had to explain that one -- that if they can't find the part to fix the tank, Israel could lose a war) and 3) It doesn't matter what I think, I going to be here anyway, so I might as well be happy!

Often there is very little we can do about our circumstances, but with effort we can control our attitude towards what happens to us. This is called "reframing" -- perceiving a situation or event differently than first perceived or differently than it is usually viewed. It is impossible not to reframe because any way that you view a situation or event is a reframe from every other possible way of
viewing it. Find a way to put a positive spin on a situation. 1) Look
at what you can gain from the experience. 2) Repeat it to yourself
and integrate into your consciousness. There is an alternative -- you can continue to focus on the negative ... and suffer.

Your outlook on life not only affects you, it affects your family and your children. Many times I have mentioned that a parent only owes his children three things: Example, Example, Example. The following piece by the renown and prolific writer, A. Nonymous, will demonstrate why:

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking

      When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator,and I wanted to paint another one.

      When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you feed a stray cat, and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

      When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make my favorite cake just for me, and I knew that little things are special things.

      When you thought I wasn't looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I believed there is a God I could always talk to.

      When you thought I wasn't looking, I felt you kiss me good night, and I felt loved.

      When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw tears come from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it's all right to cry.

      When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw that you cared and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

      When you thought I wasn't looking, I looked ...
and wanted to say thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I
wasn't looking.

Portion of the Week

Topics covered in this week's portion include: Judges and Justice, Sacred Trees and Pillars, Blemished Sacrifice, Penalties for Idolatry, The Supreme Court, The King, Levitical Priests, Priestly Portions, Special Service, Divination and Prophecy, Cities of Refuge, Murder, Preserving Boundaries, Conspiring Witnesses,
Preparing for War, Taking Captives, Conducting a Siege and the Case of the Unsolved Murder.

This week we have the famous admonition: "Righteousness, Righteousness shall you pursue, so that you will live and possess the Land that the Almighty your God, gives you."


Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

In the section discussing Prophecy, the Torah states, "You shall (trust) wholeheartedly in the Almighty, your God" (Deuteronomy 18:13). We are enjoined to trust in God, but to what degree do we
have an obligation to make a normal human effort and what is considered a lack of trust in God?

The question arises regarding testing people before marriage for being carriers of Tay-Sachs disease. Some people wonder whether such testing is not contrary to the trust we are required to have in Divine Providence -- why search for problems
when in all probability none exist?

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, of blessed memory, (who was the foremost authority on Jewish law) clarified this point: "Although the percentage of infants born with this disease is small and one might be apt to apply the verse: 'You shall trust wholeheartedly in the Almighty,' (which Rashi interprets as meaning that one should not delve into the future) in light of the fact that a simple test has been developed for this, one who does not make use of it is like one who shuts his eyes to what can clearly be seen ... and since the birth of such a child, God forbid, causes great anguish ... it is prudent for all who are considering marriage to undergo this test." (cited in The Jewish Observer, May, 1986)

Having trust in the Almighty will give a person peace of mind and serenity. However, one should never use a claim of trust in the Almighty to condone laziness or rash behavior. There is a thin line between the virtue of trusting in God and the fault of carelessness and lack of taking responsibility.

There is the story of a man who lived by a river. A policeman warns him to evacuate because of a flood warning. The man rejects the offer and says, "I have perfect trust in the Almighty to save me." As the water rises, a person in a boat offers to take him to safety. The man again replies with his proclamation of trust
and refuses the ride. Finally, as the man is sitting on his roof, a helicopter comes to rescue him; again the man proclaims his trust and refuses the rescue. The water rises, the man drowns and is finally standing in judgment before the Almighty. "God, I had perfect trust in you -- how could you let me down?" The Almighty replies, "But, my son, I sent the policeman, the boat and the helicopter!"

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