“Justice, Justice shall you pursue, so that you may live and take possession of the land…”
During the 1st Week of Elul, the torah portion under study is called Re’eh, which means ‘See‘.
I spent our 1st week presenting the Month of Elul to you as 1st time Students. Traditionally, we enter the Month of Elul focused on “Seeing”, so I thought it fitting to utilize the time “to see” what Elul is all about.
The usual course of progression is to study the torsh portion before the Sabbath comes.
In some ways, we are a week behind. Nevertheless, This week of September 7-13th, Justice will be our primary focus.
(I will post a teaching on Ki Tetze soon so that you can flow and pray with both teachings as you choose).
Below is the Torah Portion Schedule:
Re’eh (See) Aug 31, [Av 30] Deut. 11:26 – 16:17
Shoftim (Judges) Sept. 7, [Elul 7] Deut. 16:18 thru 21:19
Ki Tetze (When You Go Out) Sept. 14th, [Elul 14] Deut. 21:10 thru 25:19
Ki Tavo (When You Enter In) Sept. 21, [Elul 21] Deut. 26:1 thru 29:8 (9)
Nitzavim (You Are Standing) Sept. 28th, [Elul 28] Deut. 29:9 (10) thru 30:20
NOTE: Have you noticed how the dates are perfectly aligned with each other this year in the Month of Elul? This doesn’t happen this very often. (I just thought we should make note of it).
Torah portion is taken from Deut 16:18 through 21:9.
For anyone unfamiliar with this term (torah portions), it just means that each week a specific portion of the scriptures, are studied.
I will attach a Torah Portion Calendar so that you can take a look at it if you like. I think this is a beautiful custom. I like the idea of reading through the scriptures yearly, as a community of believers.
Spiritually, you always know how to sync up. In the Christian tradition I grew up in, this was not our custom. Our Pastors just went with the spirit on what to teach next.
What I found fascinating is that over time, as I increased in my knowledge of Christianity and my Jewish Heritage, I began to notice that some Pastors messages were synced up with the Biblical Calendar, — and they were completely unaware. I find that fascinating.
Pastors who flow with the Spirit of GOD, will always be on the same page!
In Parshat Shoftim: (Shoftim is the Hebrew word for ‘Judges’); Moses reminds the children of Israel of the rules for the Justice System, the Rules of Kingship and their relationship as a nation to their idolatrous neighbors, including the rules of warfare.
The key focus in this portion of scripture is his message, “Justice, justice shall you pursue, so that you may live and take possession of the land which God, your God, is giving you.”
Teachings Outlined in Parashat Shoftim:
- The Judges must deal with issues that come before them unbiased…
- Judges are required to interpret and apply the torah.
- Consider/Process your decisions through the filter of torah.
- Judges must be fair and meticulous in their investigations, i.e., never distort judgement.
- Don’t take bribery.
- A minimum of 2 witnesses to any crime are required for conviction and punishment.
- Witnesses do not give testimony in front of each other.
- Prohibitions outlined against idolatry and sorcery.
- Guidelines are given to establish Cities of Refuge.
- For those guilty of accidental murder.
- Rules of Warfare are established
- Offer terms for peace before attacking a city.
- Zero tolerance policy against unscrupulous, wanton, gratuitous destruction.
- Those Exempt From Battle:
- The recently married, anyone who just built a home, or just planted a vineyard.
- Anyone lacking courage are not required to serve in the military.
- Procedures outlined for handling murders by an unknown assailant.
- The Community is responsible for what they do, and also what they could have prevented.
God tells them that they will one day desire a King to rule over them, and that He will choose their King. The King will be held to the task of writing out in his own hand a duplicate of this teaching that GOD is giving now, and read it as long as he lives, so that he will not get prideful and lift himself up over his brethren.
God continues saying, that he will raise up a prophet from among them and put His Words in their mouth.
Shoftim begins by speaking to those who will be judges.
On the surface, we could content ourselves thinking that the torah is only speaking to the “official” judges of the nation. But, torah is speaking to the judge in all of us.
We learn the Word, to do the Word.
- Justice is a purpose and responsibility to be shared by EVERYONE.
- How we treat the weak, the broken, the down trodden, the widows, the orphans, etc. is a reflection of our core, as human beings.
There is an irreplaceable, undeniable joy that we each experience when we work along side GOD by lifting the burden and/or destroying the yoke off of another human being.
Helping another person because it is in our power to do so in honor of GOD’s Name is Phenomenal.
Some cry, “Where was GOD.” Others cry out, “Where are We?”
The qualities of “divinity” are in us, and as Jesus said, “greater works than these shall you do in My Name…” then we will exercise our authority in the spirit and speak from a Heavenly position and not from sea level.
Judges were appointed to protect the weak, the poor, the despised- through their words, prayers and actions.
Justice and compassion are paramount. We must cry out loud for justice with a passion.
Your words are spirit and life. Cry out against injustice with expectation that justice shall occur.
This week when we hear reports of injustice, say a prayer.
Take all reports of injustice into your prayer closet.
1 Samuel 15:22
“And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”
Note: In the above verse the word “obey” in Hebrew is “shama” which means to hear.
To hear (shama) in Hebrew, means more than just “hearing” what was said. It is not an, “in one ear and out the other” kind of hearing!
Shama means to hear AND obey, together. “I will do AND I will hear”, there is not one without the other.
In GOD’s Language (Hebrew), doing is more important than knowing. Hebrew is verb oriented, rather than Noun oriented Language.
The emphasis is on Action.
“To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”
“For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”
“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.”
A Few Amazing Prayers For Justice:
Read these Psalms out loud, over someones situation, then pray them out loud.
Psalm 17, Psalm 28, and Psalm 109.
Psalm 28 provided below:
1Unto thee will I cry, O Lord my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.
2 Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle.
3 Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts.
4 Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert.
5 Because they regard not the works of theLord, nor the operation of his hands, he shall overthrow them, and not build them up.
6 Blessed be the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications.
7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.
8 The Lord is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed.
9 Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever.