Contributed by: R. Ezra Mizrahi
Towards the end of last week's parasha, Re’eh, we read about the various holidays, which Hashem has commanded us to maintain in qedousha throughout our lives. We can deduce from the words of the text that these days are not "holidays" in the American sense, and a time to travel and pull out the barbeque, but rather a time to reconnect with Hashem.
We must always remember that in the times of the Bet Hamiqdash, all male members of Bnei Yisrael would travel during this time. However, the place they traveled was not known for its wonderful beaches and scenery, but rather was known for being the holiest place in the world- Jerusalem. Three times a year, every Jewish male would make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to reconnect with their religiosity.
This week's parasha, Shofetim, begins with the commandment to place judges and disciplinarians (officers) in every city and city in Israel.
Our rabbis ask: What is the connection between the holidays in parashat Re’eh to the commandment to establish judges and disciplinarians?
The answer is simple. As mentioned above, the "aliya baregel" or tri-annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem was a holy spiritual time. The main citizens of the city were Kohanim and Leviim who were on call for working in the Bet Hamiqdash. These Kohanim and Leviim were the spiritual Torah leaders. They taught and directed all those pilgrims who arrived to the holy city.
The connection between the two parshiyot provides a very strong message to us. Even though every male of Israel would be seeing a Torah scholar and teacher at least three times a year, the Torah stresses that this is not enough. One must also establish judges in every city, to always have access to the opinion of Torah and not just associate with it three times a year. Torah must be prevalent in all our communities.
For the last ten years, we have been privileged to having Rabbi Haim Shaul with the Ahaba family on a daily basis. However, as of this week, he will be moving to the new shul in Magen David Elementary School. He will no doubt there do as he did in Ahaba, and that is passionately teach Torah and help guide people by always providing the opinion of Torah when needed. This is a bittersweet goodbye, for the rabbi will be embarking on a very important goal, to establish a new vibrant community in that area. As our parasha teaches us, we must have our scholars and judges spread throughout our dwellings. Such a righteous goal can only succeed. We wish him the best of luck in all his endeavors.