4 Elul 5774/ August 30, 2014 Parshat Shoftim Vol. 6 Num.

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Welcome to our sixth year of Toronto Torah! We expect to return with a full issue next week.
Enjoy our new feature below: Book Reviews!
Israeli courts are permanent, while
courts outside of our land are ad
hoc.

My master and teacher, Rabbi Aharon
Lichtenstein, explains that both of
Ramban’s points express an essential
characteristic of the court in Israel.
Outside, the Jewish court’s function is
limited to settling disputes and
protecting peaceful society. In the Land
of Israel, however, the court plays an
active role in educating the population
and mai ntai ni ng proper moral
behaviour. Therefore, we require courts
in every city, and for all time.

Continuing this strand of thought, one
may suggest that Rabbi Lichtenstein’s
explanation also addresses a separate
characteristic of Jewish courts. Courts
are empowered to carry out most
punishments only if the judges hold
formal ordination (semichah), which
may be conferred only in Israel. Perhaps
this is because the courts do not punish
solely to maintain order; that is the role
of the king (see Derashot haRan 11).
Punishment is also not about pure
retribution, which is the province of G-d
(see Rambam, Hilchot Teshuvah 3:2).
Rather, puni shment serves an
educational capacity, demonstrating our
moral disgust with sin, and this is the
role of Israeli courts, uniquely. Thus the
ordination which qualifies judges to
play this role must come from the
nation of Israel, in the Land of Israel.

bweintraub@torontotorah.com
Judges Among Us Rabbi Baruch Weintraub
Our parshah begins with the Divine
command to appoint judges and
officers “in all your cities that Hashem
gives you, for your tribes.” (Devarim
16:18) Ramban discusses the Torah’s
odd specification of the cities of our
tribes; on its face, the mitzvah of
instituting Jewish courts is not limited
in any way to the Land of Israel!

Ramban of f ers t wo pot enti al
distinctions between the courts of the
Land of Israel and the courts of the
Diaspora:
 According to a midrash, we are
required to install courts in every
city in Israel, but outside of the
land we are only required to create
regional courts.
 According to Ramban himself,
explores the specifics of Temple service,
it lays out those esoteric details with
admirably lucid organization. In
explaing the meaning of the services,
Rabbi I sser l es i s a st aunch
Maimonidean, teaching metaphysics
from Rambam’s Moreh haNevuchim
(Guide of the Perplexed). On a third
level, Rabbi Isserles emphasizes
mystical explanations in every chapter
of his work, invoking angels and
demons and the secrets of the universe.

What makes this book unique?
The Talmud explains the lessons of
various mitzvot, and those explanations
have been explored and expanded by
various writers through the centuries.
Few writers, though, have tackled the
arcana of the Temple and its sacrifices
in a comprehensive way. Even Rambam,
Ramban and Rabbi Samson Raphael
Hirsch, all of whom commented on the
meaning of the rites of the korbanot,
stopped short of a thorough analysis of
the subject. Torat haOlah is special for
its attempt – fifteen centuries after the
fall of the Second Temple – to explain
the “why”s of sacrificial life.

In particular, the introduction to the
second volume of Torat haOlah is a
“must read”. In this section, Rabbi
Isserles explores the ancient question of
why G-d instructs us to bring sacrifices,
at all. Unlike others who have
approached the topic, the author does
not limit himself to one or two theories.
Instead, Rabbi Isserles collects more
than a dozen theories, ranging from the
pragmatic and rational to the brain-
achingly mystical. This is an important
study for anyone who wishes to
understand how sages from Talmudic
times through the sixteenth century, as
well as their more modern heirs, have
understood the world of the korban.

torczyner@torontotorah.com
Book Review: Torat ha’Olah Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner
Torat Ha’Olah, Rabbi Moshe Isserles
Published in Cracow, 1570

A summary of the book
Rabbi Moshe Isserles (Rama) is best
known for his halachic works,
principally his Mappah contribution to
the Shulchan Aruch, his Darchei
Moshe commentary to the Tur, and his
Torat Chatat on the laws of kashrut.
Rama was also a philosopher, and he
defended his Aristotelian scholarship
in a responsum. And, like many
prominent halachic authorities of
centuries past, Rama was also a
serious mystic, steeped in Kabbalah.

The multiple sides of Rama’ s
philosophy become obvious in his
Torat ha’Olah, a three-volume work
which analyzes the significance of the
structure of the Mishkan and Beit
haMikdash, the furnishings and tools
used therein, and the various korbanot
and their related rituals. As the text
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This week:
Shabbat, August 30
After minchah R’ Mordechai Torczyner, Avodah Zarah, BAYT

Thursday, September 4
8:30 AM R’ Mordechai Torczyner, Yehoshua: War with
Jericho, 49 Michael Ct, Thornhill, for women
Friday, September 5
10:30 AM R’ Mordechai Torczyner, Shemitah: Biblical or
Rabbinic?, Yeshivat Or Chaim
Highlights for Aug 30 - Sept 5 / 4-10 Elul
Watch for our full complement of shiurim returning in the coming weeks!
Re-starting next week:
Shabbat
Before minchah R’ Mordechai Torczyner, Daf, BAYT

Sundays
8:45 AM Josh Gutenberg, Contemporary Halacha, BAYT
9:15 AM R’ Shalom Krell, Kuzari, Zichron Yisroel

Tuesdays
1:30 PM R’ Mordechai Torczyner, Iyov, Shaarei Shomayim