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The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy


The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy


The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy


D’var Torah Parashat Shoftim: Responsibilities of a King

Freshman Sara Saidel explores Parashat Shoftim. Photo by Jared Shultz

This Parsha focuses mainly on laws, what to do depending on different crimes and the appointment of community leaders/law enforcers. Specifically, Shoftim is about trials, law enforcements, laws against idolatry, sorcery, guidelines for a king, unintentional murder, cities of refuge and wars. Lastly, this parsha talks about what to do if there is an unknown murder and the body is found in a field, what the leaders of the communities are supposed to do and figure out how to prevent this from happening again. The part of this portion that I thought was most interesting was the different guidelines for the king.

In Chapter 17 verse 18 it says:

וְהָיָ֣ה כְשִׁבְתּ֔וֹ עַ֖ל כִּסֵּ֣א מַמְלַכְתּ֑וֹ וְכָ֨תַב ל֜וֹ אֶת־מִשְׁנֵ֨ה הַתּוֹרָ֤ה הַזֹּאת֙ עַל־סֵ֔פֶר מִלִּפְנֵ֖י הַכֹּֽהֲנִ֥ים הַֽלְוִיִּֽם:

“And it will be, when he sits upon his royal throne, that he shall write for himself two copies of this Torah on a scroll from [that Torah which is] before the Levitic kohanim.”

My question about this quote is why should the King write two copies of the Torah? Aren’t there already many Torahs out there now? Why should he write them when he has many servants and could probably hire a sofer (someone who writes Torah scrolls for a living)?

I think the king has to write two Torahs so they can both remind him how to set a good example for the people of Israel. If he has two Torahs, both are  a constant reminder to love God and be a just ruler who performs all the rules of a Torah so he can be a perfect king to lead the Jews.

Rabbi Gary Prokas from Temple Beth Zion in New York had some of the same question that I had. Why did the king need to write the Torahs and why did it have to be him and not a sofer? In Rabbis Porkas opinion, when we write something ourselves it becomes ours and we become more personally invested in it. Writing the the first Torah himself is also a reminder to the king because it will remind him who he is, who he serves and who he is ruling. Because of this personal connection to the Torah, it proves that just being born royal doesn’t necessarily qualify one to rule a nation.

The reason for writing the second Torah and being in possession of two, is so the king can have a Torah for personal use. Before the king could rule, he first had to write down G-d’s commandments and apply it to his personal life. In other words, the king needed to make sure he was a good Jews before going out and leading them the rest of the people of Israel.

I think this portion relates to everyone who goes to HBHA. We have all been taught from a very young age the basics of Judaism. Shabbat, holidays, kashrut, etc. But really going into depth and spending years and years here going deeper and forming personal connections to Judaic studies is what really prepares us for becoming Jewish adults. Just like the king needed to write two Torahs to prepare himself for being a king, we spend the majority of our early life learning about Judaism and hebrew so we can prepare ourselves  too.

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