Okay, so late doesn’t even begin to cover it. It’s nearly the end of the year and I’ve suddenly fallen way behind. Do you want to hear my excuses? No, I didn’t think so. Don’t judge me, ok?
Shof’tim means judges (hah!). This portion lays out the basic Jewish constitution. Who’s in charge of what and how each group is to carry out their own responsibilities. Kings, Levites (priests), Prophets, witnesses, and so forth. There’s one little bit that I find a bit out of place. It’s about trees.
If the Jews lay siege to a town, they can eat from the trees and they must not cut down any trees that yield food. They should also kill all of the men and take the women and children as booty. And this is all in the same few breaths. Such violence right next to such sweetness. And by the way, I just heard on the news that the tree outside of Anne Frank’s hiding place finally died. They had it propped up and have been trying to save it all these years, but it finally went. And it made the news. Alongside the number of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe the lesson is that there is horror and sweetness together in every time and place. But I still thinks it’s kind of out of place next to the constitutional issues.
This portion also brings me to a constant source of my own confusion. There are kings and priests and prophets described by God. And God clearly says that He is the only God and the only one we should believe in. So I seriously don’t get the Jesus idea and the Holy Ghost and all of the Catholic saints. When I asked a Catholic once who Jesus was, the answer I got was Jesus is God. One of my friends explained that Jesus and the saints are like brokers. They deal with the tedium and leave the big stuff to God. Again, I’m still confused. And I’m not trying to be nasty or anything, I’m just confused. If we are to believe in only one God, then I don’t get the rest of it. Who are all of these people that others are praying to? Aren’t they supposed to be praying to God? At least according to what’s written.
Although I am certainly guilty on occasion of praying to the sun god when it’s been raining for too long, or praying to the rain god when it’s been too hot. And sometimes praying to the ice cream god that they’ll have my favorite flavor when I get to the ice cream store. I don’t think that counts though, do you?