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We Are Only Human

By: Mrs. Sepha Kirshblum

I am always intrigued when learning Parshat Shoftim at how “human” we all are and how much Gd takes that into account. I almost wonder why He made it that way? The parsha starts` with the description of our needing the legal system. The Shoftim, judges, will help us keep order and justice in our communities. Which completely infers there will be many crimes that need a “higher power” to help maintain order. Even more interesting to me, is that justice system is not divine-its human! G-d is telling us we will make many mistakes and other humans can decide on our guilt and how to execute our punishment!

Later in the parsha we are given the interesting command of building Arei Miklat-Cities of Refuge. It is the second time we are told about this mitzvah and this time the Torah spends even more time highlighting the fact the idea of the “unintentional murder.” The example it brings this time is if a man is chopping a tree in the forest and part of the axe disconnects and ends up flying off hitting another person and killing them. This example seems much more accidental than the examples in Bamidbar. But even with the little guilt the person might legally have in this example they still must run to an Ir Miklat and ultimately live there.

To me there are many important messages to internalize as we read this parsha at the beginning of chodesh Elul. As we start reflecting on our past year and all our past mistakes G-d is first and foremost acknowledging that no one is perfect. He, as our Creator, understands that we are going to make mistakes, intentionally and unintentionally, and sadly every action has a consequence. We must do our cheshbon hanefesh for those mistakes and then teshuva to fix and grow from those mistakes.

But we must also enter into our own “cities of refuge” over the course of this month to truly feel the connection and closeness to Gd. It's a time to build a stronger bond with our Creator, understand our strengths and weaknesses to build towards the Yamim Noraim. The solitude helps with that introspection and reminds us not get bogged down with remorse, since we are human and will make mistakes. But rather to grow from it-figure what we want to work on and create a plan to implement those changes.

May this Elul bring us all a true feeling of “ani lidodi v’dodi li” of a love and closeness to Hashem that helps us each accomplish true teshuvah for the Yamim Noraim. Shabbat Shalom





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