- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On September 9, 2016
- 0 Comments
Welcome again to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we move toward Shabbat.
“Justice, Justice, shall you pursue.” Tzedek, Tzedek, Tirdof. (Deuteronomy 16:20)
This command comes from this week’s Torah portion, entitled Shoftim. It begins with the instruction to appoint judges and magistrates who must govern the people fairly and without partiality. Moses prepares the Jewish people for the life they will lead when they cross over into the land.
Without it, they cannot survive.
Neither can we. There are many levels to justice.
The Hasidic master, Yaakov Yosef interpreted the repetition of the word, Tzedek, in this way:
“For you, for yourself. First judge yourself, and, using the same yardstick, judge others. Do not be lenient with your faults while judging harshly the same faults in others; do not overlook transgression in yourself while demanding perfection of others.” (Itturei Torah, Vol III, page 252)
His words remind us of the preparatory work we do at this time of the Jewish calendar year. The new moon of the Hebrew month of Elul arrived earlier this week. As the crescent grows larger toward the full moon in the middle of the month, our awareness, too, increases as we conduct our own spiritual inventory. We become the judge of our own behavior. We question our actions, our words, and our intentions in pursuit of the right and righteous behavior we can demand of ourselves. We have the ability to right a wrong, to correct mistakes, to apologize. This is the sacred work of the holiday season.
“Justice, Justice, shall you pursue.” Tzedek, Tzedek, Tirdof.
Jewish tradition teaches us that the seeds of righteousness take root in the fertile soil of self-examination. We cannot fully repair the world if we have not done the internal work demanded of us.
The moon will wax and then wane toward Rosh Hashanah followed ten days later by Yom Kippur. As it changes shape in the heavens, we have the chance to make changes in our own lives and behaviors as we make our way to the new year.
May Shabbat help us to stop and to reflect, as we become judges of ourselves and discover the best that is within each of us.
If you are in town, come celebrate Shabbat together and join us for Qabbalat Shabbat INSIDE with plenty of singing, learning, praying and thinking.
Please feel free to connect with me here. I would be honored to learn of your own reflections and response. I’m grateful to the many people who have already shared their thoughts with me in this way.