In this week’s Torah portion, Parshas Shoftim, Moshe instructs the Jews to appoint judges and law enforcement officers in every city, telling them specifically, “justice, justice shall you pursue.” A crime must be thoroughly investigated and a minimum of two witnesses must testify to convict someone. Moshe tells the Jewish people that there will be Sages in every generation that will interpret and apply the laws of the Torah. The gifts to the Kohanim (priests) and Levites are also discussed.

Shoftim includes the laws against idolatry, the appointment and behavior of a Jewish king and instructions for the creation of “cities of refuge” for the inadvertent murderer. The rules of war are included in this week’s parsha, including the law exempting from army service those who just built a home, planted a vineyard, betrothed a woman or newlywed and those who are afraid. It’s a very timely parsha as it covers the requirements for entering a peace treaty with our enemies as well.

The parsha concludes with the law of eglah arufah, the special procedure to be followed when a person is killed by an unknown murderer and the body is found in a field, which teaches us of the responsibility of the community and its leaders not only for what they do, but also for what they might have prevented from being done in their communities.

There are so many symbolic treats that can be served this week! Animal crackers can symbolize the priestly gifts as well as the laws of eglah arufah, which involve decapitating a calf. The candy dots can symbolize the grapes from the vineyard that one planted and is thereby exempt from war, and the stones on the choshen, breastplate, worn by the High Priest (who is referenced in the laws of the city of refuge, and again a reference to the priestly gifts.) The ring pops symbolize the man who has been betrothed and is exempt from war, and the signet ring commonly worn by a king (as the rules of kingship are included in this week’s parsha.)

Finally, the bubble men, a favorite among the children in my house, can symbolize the judges, the two witnesses needed in every case, the leaders of each generation, the people in the cities of refuge… the options are endless. Encourage your children to be creative in coming up with explanations for the treats and don’t forget to add your own ideas below!

Shabbat Shalom,

Shayna Levine-Hefetz

Please follow us and share:

Want constant access to online Torah and Jewish resources?

First Name: 
Last Name: 
Leave a Reply