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Shoftim 5765

Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9 )

by Kalman Packouz

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GOOD MORNING!   The devastation is horrible! Homes flattened, people refugees, jobs gone. At best, people are in a hotel, maybe staying with friends. We cannot be insensitive to this suffering! We must give what we can. I encourage everyone to donate to help those poor people suffering from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The Greater Miami Jewish Federation has an emergency fund set up for helping the victims of Katrina. While I encourage giving as much as you can and helping all who are suffering, if you are looking for a fund to help Jewish victims of Katrina, then this fund is an excellent choice. They have a matching challenge fund of $2 million from 2 Miami families; this means that for every dollar you give, 2 dollars will go to relief. I have been assured that 100% of your contribution will go to relief (none for overhead) and 95% will go for Jewish relief. Donate at: .

And at the same time, we must remember the people in Israel evicted
Gaza who are in a similar situation - homes flattened, refugees, jobs
gone. Here's a report on what's happening in Israel from the

"Many of the families expelled from Gaza in the last few days have been put into crowded and inadequate living conditions. Some are being housed temporarily in hotels, with entire families sharing one room. This arrangement is to last for only 10 days, after which they will have to fend for themselves. Many do not yet have access to their household goods and personal items that were left behind, and need emergency support."

To provide humanitarian aid for those in Israel who need your help to restart their lives, go to: and click on "Their Grief is Our Grief".

One cannot rely on the efficiency or largess of government aid either in the United States or Israel to be sufficient or timely to help. We must do what we can.

Is there a connection between these two tragedies? It is incumbent upon us to give it thought. The Rambam, Moshe Maimonides, writes that if a person thinks that disasters are arbitrary then that person is cruel. There is meaning in life and insights to be gotten from life events. The Almighty is sending us a message - along with an opportunity to help.

From where do we learn our obligation to help our fellow man? The Torah tells us:

"Love your neighbor as yourself, I am God." (Leviticus 19:18)

The Talmud teaches, "All Jews are co-guarantors for each other." We're not just "members of the tribe," but we are responsible for each other. We are one people. Our destinies are intertwined. If a person's foot hurts, he doesn't say, "So what, it's just the foot; it's not me!" His foot is part of him. If a Jew is suffering, we suffer too - hopefully, we have that sensitivity and humanity to feel his pain and to help.

The Jewish people are known as "bayshanim, rachmanim and gomlay chasadim" - morally sensitive, merciful and doers of kindness. It is our national character and our aspiration.

The Torah tells us:

"Do not harden your heart or close your hand against your needy brother. Open you hand wide to him ... Do not feel bad about giving to him ... it will be a source of blessing to you." (Deuteronomy

In Leviticus 19:16, we are told:

"Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor; I am God."

Other than redeeming or rescuing captives and hostages, providing relief for starving and destitute people is of the highest priority! (Shulchan Aruch, Code of Jewish Law, Yoreh Deah 251)

If you want to help, to do something meaningful, to save lives, save marriages and families, then please give to: and

For more on "Tikun Olam: Responsibility" go to!


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Torah Portion of the Week

Topics 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." (Deut. 16:20).


Dvar Torah
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah (Deuteronomy 20:2-8) states that before the Jewish army went to war, an announcement was made that certain categories of people should return home: he who has built a new house, but has not dedicated it; he who has planted a vineyard, but has not partaken from the fruits; he who has betrothed a wife, but has not married her. Verse 8 reads:

"And the officers shall speak further to the people and they shall say: 'Is there a man who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house and let him not make the heart of his brethren faint as well as his heart.' "

What does this mean and what is the connection of the fourth category to the previous three categories?

Rabbi Yosi Haglili explains (Babylonian Talmud, tractate Sotah 44a, cited by Rashi) that the fourth category refers to someone who fears that he is unworthy of being saved because of his transgressions. Rabbi Yosi adds that this is the reason why the other three categories were told to go home. If someone would leave the ranks because of his sins, he would feel embarrassed. However, since other groups were also sent home, people would not know which individuals were leaving for which reasons.

This is truly amazing. A large number of soldiers are sent home in wartime in order to save a sinner from humiliation. We must learn from here that we must do everything possible to protect people from shame.

CANDLE LIGHTING - September 9:
(or go to

Jerusalem  6:18
Chicago 6:50  Guatemala 5:48  Hong Kong 6:14
Honolulu 6:20  J'Burg 5:40  London 7:09
Los Angeles 6:49  Melbourne 5:44  Mexico City 6:29

Miami 7:12  Moscow 6:45  New York 6:56
Singapore 6:49  Toronto 6:19


The difficulties of life are
to make us better, not bitter

In Loving Memory of
Rachel bas Rav Yakov
--  Sol & Anna Zuckerman

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