In this week's Parasha, named appropriately Shoftim, which means Judges or rulers (or even alludes to kings), we learn about some details of appointing a king, and what are his requirements. One of the more detailed expectation of a king is to actually write a sefer Torah and have it readily accessible. This idea seems strange at first, because many of us do not equate kings to rabbinic leaders. There are spiritual leaders (such as Rabbis) and Kings, to rule the land, to judge, to battle in war. So why do kings need to write a Torah? The answer is a beautiful message the Torah teaches us about leadership and people in power. The verse says “...he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his G-d and . . . not consider himself better than his brothers, or turn from the law to the right or to the left.” (Deuteronomy 17:19). The verse is actually very clear about why a king must read and learn Torah often, so he shouldn't forget who is serving whom! With great power comes responsibility, and even kings need to know their limits.
As we begin the school year, I think this message is perfect. Rules are in place, in order to give us structure, and even kings need a reminder of that while they are ruling. A king can easily get comfortable with the people lower than him and start considering himself “better than his brothers”. This is true for a king, who is actually on a higher level than the average person, and more so for us ordinary people. In school, if everyone had this mindset, clicks would be broken, bullying wouldn't exist, and friendships would be open-ended, because no one would consider him or herself better than the other. I hope we can use the message of this Parasha and apply it to everyone around us.
Wishing everyone a successful year.
Rabbi Aharon Assaraf
High School Assistant Principal