Monday, August 20, 2012

Shoftim – Peace

If a true solution is hidden from you, in matters of blood (capital punishment), legal regulations,leprous marks ... a dispute in your gates (courts), then you must go up to the place that God your Lord shall choose.”

To explain what this phrase really means, the Arizal quotes the Zohar talking about the destruction of the Temple. At this time, the angels asked God, regarding a phrase in Psalms, “The impudent dug pits for me, which is not according to your Torah.” They said, why should the wicked prosper? Why should the righteous who observe Your Torah suffer? They continued with three specific claims.

First they said, Master of the World, You wrote in Your Torah that during ritual slaughter “One covers the blood with dust.” Your servants are not only careful to eat only kosher animals and birds, and to observe the laws of shechitah, but they also fulfill Your commandment to cover the blood of the killed birds with dust. Nevertheless, the impudent enemies “They spill their blood as water.”

The second claim: You wrote, “Don't kill the mother and its offspring in one day.” Your servants now only fulfill this commandment, which teachers them mercy, but the seller of the mother tells the buyer of the offspring, "Keep in mind that I sold its mother today, and wait with your slaughter till tomorrow." Nevertheless,  You allow them to be killed, parents and children together, as the Psalms say, “And the sons are slain.”

Thirdly they said, You wrote, “And the Kohen will examine the house and command to clean it out.” You punish your children with the sickness of their houses, which teaches them to be generous and not stingy (the leprosy of houses is the punishment for stinginess), and moreover, they ask a Kohen to examine their house, and obey his decision. In reward, you allowed the enemy to destroy Your House, as the Psalms say, “They destroyed Your House.”

To all of this God answered, “Is there peace between them? And if there is no peace between the people, they cannot rely on any of the promises.”

All this is hinted to in the phrase above: “matters of blood” - that is covering blood with dust; “legal regulations” - that is the laws of mother and its offspring; “Leprous marks” - that is the Kohen who examines the house. Why is all this? - Because of the “disputes in your gates.” What is the answer then? – Go to the place that God has chosen, study the Torah and through that you will become as one, and this will put peace among you.

Art: George Peter Alexander Healy - The Peacemakers

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