This week’s Torah portion, Shoftim, opens with the mitzva: “Judges and officers you shall place at all your gates.”
The Torah is eternal; so too are all its commandments. Appointing “judges and officers” thus applies in every age and in all locations, and contains a practical directive for our daily lives.
Every Jew is an entire world, a microcosm of the greater world at large. And just as the world is divided into regions and cities, so too may the individual Jew be said to inhabit various “cities” in which he lives and acts.
These “cities” are the thoughts we think, the words we speak, and the deeds and actions we perform. As with every city, the domains of thought, speech and deed are protected by gates; indeed, it is a mitzva to install them at their entrance. A gate is a portal, a doorway through which all who wish to enter the city must pass. A gate can be opened and closed; when it is firmly shut, no one can intrude.
The Torah’s instruction to appoint “judges and officers” at the gates of our individual “cities” is directed to all Jews, young and old. Furthermore, all Jews are endowed with the ability to carry out the command successfully. When a Jew is aroused to perform good deeds, he must open his “gate” as wide as it will go. But if, G-d forbid, his “city” is in danger of invasion by the Evil Inclination, he must shut the “gate” immediately and refuse it access.
How do we lead a G-dly life? How is it possible to carry out G-d’s will? By properly utilizing the limbs and organs with which we are blessed. A Jew’s eyes can be used for reading Jewish books in which is written G-d’s laws about how to conduct our lives.
Our ears can be used to listen the counsel of our teachers and to hear only words that are appropriate; our nose, to breathe the pure air of Torah and mitzvot, in a wholesome environment where we can breathe freely.
Similarly, a Jew’s mouth can open to accept kosher food and drink, and to speak words of respect and love. And who is the “judge” who makes these decisions? The “judge” is our intellect, our capacity for rational thought; the “officer” within us makes sure that the “judge’s” decisions are enforced.
When we all make the right judgments and obey the Torah’s commands, we will merit, with G-d’s help, the appointment of the “judges and officers” of the Sanhedrin of the Third Holy Temple, and the complete Redemption with Moshiach NOW!!!