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INSIGHT: King Moshe?Shoftim: The Name’s the Same

Lessons in Leadership

Lessons in Leadership

Let’s begin the Parsha with a question:

What was Moshe’s job?

Think about it: he was called Moshe Rabbeinu.

“Rabbeinu” means “our teacher.” Moshe was the master teacher of Bnei Yisrael for his generation and for all future generations up until this very day!

OK, but besides for being a teacher, what other roles did he have? Think carefully.

While reviewing the previous Parshiyos, we see Moshe’s many different roles:

Throughout the “Out of Egypt” episodes back in the Book of Shmos, Moshe was the army general of the new Jewish nation, leading battles against Egyptians, Amalek, and other nations.

In Parshas Yisro, Moshe was the head of the Jewish Supreme Court, the Sanhedrin.

In Parshas Shemini, Moshe served as the Kohen Gadol before he handed over this holy job to his brother, Aharon.

In Parshas Korach, Moshe’s relative, Korach, started a rebellion against him. Rashi tells us that Korach was jealous of Moshe’s position as a king.

Last but not least, Moshe was a prophet with a direct connection to HaShem. This all began with the episode of the Burning Bush back in Parshas Shmos.

So, Moshe had a lot of different roles. He was an army general chief judge, Kohen Gadol, king, prophet… all in one!

How amazing that in this week’s Parsha we find that Moshe Rabbeinu gives specific instructions about each one of these important roles – judges, kings, Kohanim, prophets and army generals:

  • Moshe begins with the laws of appointing judges (Shoftim) and how to institute a fair justice system in the Land of Israel.
  • He continues with special instructions for a Jewish king.
  • Then, Moshe teaches all about the special gifts that the Jewish people will be giving to the Kohanim, so they can serve in the Beis HaMikdash – worry-free.
  • This is followed by a “Who is a True Prophet?” lesson.
  • The Parsha ends with Moshe teaching his people the Jewish way of fighting a war, with special instructions to the generals.

Hi! It's me.

Did you know that…

I am out of breath (huff… puff) 



Shazak insight

King Moshe?

Think of a king, perhaps King David (Dovid HaMelech) or his son King Solomon (Shlomo HaMelech). The image that immediately comes to mind is someone wearing a crown, sitting on his throne, in a majestic palace. Certainly, that is not how we imagine Moshe Rabbeinu.

Yet, as mentioned back in Parshas Korach, Moshe was a king. Rashi tells us that Korach was jealous of Aharon’s position as a Kohen Gadol, and Moshe’s position as a king. Also, in his laws of the Beis HaMikdash, the great Rambam clearly writes, “Moshe Rabbeinu was a king.”

So, Moshe was a king. But did he really wear a crown or sit on a throne? What do you think?

Shazak insight

Shoftim: The Name’s the Same

Our Parsha is called “Shoftim.” But it’s not the only holy book by that name:

  1. The second book of the Nevi’im is called Shoftim. It tells the history of the Jewish people after the passing of Yehoshua. It’s a roller-coaster of events, some ups and a lot of downs. (BTW: The first book of the Nevi’im is all about Yehoshua and conquering the Land – appropriately named, you guessed it – Yehoshua.)
  2. The last of the 14 books of Mishneh Torah of the Rambam is called Shoftim. This Sefer contains the laws of judges and kings, many of which come from our Parsha. It’s no surprise that the Rambam was well versed in the laws of judges and judgement (not to mention all the other laws). After all, he was a judge who came from a long line of… judges!

The Rambam signs off his commentary of his Mishnah with the following words:

I am Moshe the son of Rabbi Maimon the judge, the son of Rabbi Yosef the wise one, the son of Rabbi Yitzchok the judge, the son of Ovadiah the judge, the son of Shlomo the Rabbi, the son of Ovadiah the judge, may their memories be for a blessing. I began writing this work at the age of 23 and I completed it in Egypt at the age of 30.

End of Rambam’s Peirush HaMishnayos, Meseches Uktzin

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