September 16, 2019

Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parashat Shoftim with Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman

Our guest is Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman . He has served as the Senior Rabbi of Temple Beth-El since 2015.  Rabbi Voss-Altman was ordained from the Cincinnati Campus of HUC-JIR in 1999 and served as an Assistant Rabbi of North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, Illinois from 1999 until 2002. He then became the rabbi of Temple B’nai Tikvah in Calgary, Alberta, where his rabbinate focused on building a strong spiritual community, pastoral care and counseling, and community and social justice issues. Rabbi Voss-Altman received Alberta’s Centennial Medal of Honour in 2005 and has served as the chair of the Canadian Association of Reform Rabbis, and the Calgary Interfaith Council. He has also served on the board of the Metro Alliance for the Common Good, Imagine Calgary, the Muslim-Jewish Alliance, the Calgary Council of Christians and Jews, and the Rabbinic Cabinet of the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus.

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.

Rabbi Lester Bronstein on growing up and enforcing the law.