November 19, 2018

Rosner’s Torah-Talk: Parashat Shoftim with Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins

Our guest this week is Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins, Senior Rabbi of the Emanuel Synagogue in Sydney. Rabbi Kamins received his BA in English Literature from Stanford University and his JD from Boalt Hall School of Law, practicing law in Los Angeles briefly before beginning rabbinic studies. After receiving his rabbinical ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in the US, he arrived at Emanuel as assistant rabbi in 1989 and was appointed senior rabbi in 1999. Rabbi Kamins is an active member of the Sydney Jewish community. He is rabbinic advisor to Emanuel School, the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.  He is a member of the Council of Masorti  Rabbis of Australia and the Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia, Asia and New Zealand. He is a member of the board of the Shalom Institute, a Chaplin for the Australian Army, and one of the Jewish representatives for the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change.

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 explicit command to “not deviate” from the verdict of the priests “to the right or to the left” and on the questions this raises for a modern Jewish reader.

Our Past Discussions of Parashat Shoftim:

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.