WWOT – Weekly Words of Torah: Parashat Shoftim

To inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women
By Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, Executive Director, Women’s League For Conservative Judaism
Enter any Jewish attorney’s office, and you will most likely see some sort of artistic rendition of the verse Tzedek, Tzedek Tirdof — Justice, justice you shall pursue (Deuteronomy 16:20) from this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Shoftim. One of the most fundamental Jewish values is justice. We are taught to do all that we can to pursue justice by acting justly and treating everyone fairly and equally. The Torah also teaches us that, through tzedakah, charity, which comes from the root tzedek to protect the most vulnerable from the schemes of the most powerful. When we give tzedakah, we are acting justly.
What can we do to further our understanding of the verse, “Justice, justice you shall pursue?” One thing is to teach ourselves to always give the benefit of the doubt, wherever possible, rather than judging others quickly. Another way to pursue justice is to be a positive role model and activist, and to not stand idly by when we see an injustice like bullying taking place. We can promote this activism in many different ways — through letter writing, phone calls, or even everyday conversations. There are definitely many different ways to perform acts of tzedakah. For those of us in Women’s League, we can contribute to Torah Fund, our $100 for 100 campaign or our 1918 Society. We can also do this not just by giving money. We can donate books, clothes, food, pet food, or even blood during the year. And, in our Sisterhoods, we can bring someone new to an event, or make sure that a newcomer to a Sisterhood program feels appreciated and welcomed. Let’s all find our own ways to pursue this justice and really make a difference!
WWOT, Weekly Words of Torah will be a brief paragraph prepared weekly by our new Executive Director, Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, presented in our “This Week @ Women’s League.” WWOT will provide meaningful thoughts related to the Weekly Torah Portion, an event on the Calendar, a Prayer, or something of Jewish interest, to inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women. If you have any particular interest in future topics, or want to send Rabbi Wolintz-Fields an email, you can contact her at ewolintz-fields@wlcj.org. Read previous Weekly Words of Torah here.