June 17, 2019

Rosner’s Torah-Talk: Parashat Shoftim with Rabbi Lester Bronstein

Our guest this week is Rabbi Lester Bronstein, leader of the Bet Am Shalom congregation in White Plains, NY. Rabbi Bronstein, who holds a Bachelor's degree from Yale University and a Master's in Education from Boston University, was ordained at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. Rabbi Bronstein has been at Bet Am Shalom since 1989. Rabbi Bronstein is a founding member of the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE), and has recorded Torah commentaries and prayer services for the Reform movement’s Torah Tapes series and the Reconstructionist movement's Kol Haneshamah home prayer book. He is an officer of the White Plains Religious Leaders Association and the New York Board of Rabbis, and is a past president of the Westchester Board of Rabbis and past chair of the Westchester UJA Rabbinic Roundtable. He serves on the board of the philanthropic group Myriam’s Dream.

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 favouritism. The portion also includes prohibitions of sorcery and Idolatry; rules concerning the appointment and the behaviour 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 importance of “Shoftim ve Shotrim” (judges and police) and the importance of justice, Law and order in Judaism.

Our Past Discussions of Parashat Shoftim:

Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins on the explicit command to “not deviate” from the verdict of the priests

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman on  the controversial rules of war presented in the parasha.

Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster on the social justice agenda presented in the parasha and in book of Deuteronomy.