November 21, 2018

Rosner’s Torah-Talk: Parashat Shoftim with Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Our guest this week is Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, rabbi of the Temple Beth El congregation in Stamford, CT. Rabbi Hammerman was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1983 after receiving a Master’s degree in journalism from N.Y.U. and a B.A. from Brown University. The leader of Temple Beth El since 1992, Rabbi Hammerman serves on the Rabbinic Leadership Council. He is a member of the faculty of CLAL, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, and has been heavily involved in many Jewish think tanks, including JESNA’s Jewish Education 3.0 project, STAR-Tech and Synaplex. He is the author of Seeking God in Cyberspace and co-author of the children’s book, I Have Some Questions about God. His popular blog, On One Foot, has won him the Rockower Award for Jewish journalism, and in 2010 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the JTS for his years of service to the Jewish people.

This week's Torah Portion – Parashat Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9) – begins with instructions concerning the appointment of Judges and law enforcement officers. Moses commands the people of Israel to pursue Justice and to avoid corruption and favoritism. The portion also includes prohibitions of sorcery and Idolatry; rules concerning the appointment and the behavior of Kings; and many laws of war, including the demand to offer terms of peace before going out to war. Our discussion focuses on the somewhat controversial rules of war presented in the parasha and on what we can learn from them in these troubling times.

If you would like to learn some more about Parashat Shoftim, check out our conversation with Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster.