The Torah in Parshas Shoftim recounts Moshe Rabbeinu instructing the Jewish people what they should be doing when they get across the border into Eretz Yisrael. Moshe told them that they should appoint Shoftim to judge the people properly as well as Shotrim to enforce the law. Additionally, the Jewish people are given a mitzvah to appoint a Melech.

Sandwiched between the Parsha of the Shofet and the Parsha of the Melech, the Torah describes, once again, the severity and prohibition of idolatry.

The Daas Sofrim explains the connection: Once the Shoftim can eradicate idolatry from Eretz Yisrael, which was populated by idol worshippers, they can then appoint a king who can build up his malchus on a pure slate.

Amongst the prohibitions mentioned regarding Avoda Zara, is that of planting an Asheira tree, which is a tree used for the purpose of Avoda Zara. Likewise, one may not use a tree as a source to construct the Mizbeach.

The Meshech Chochma explains the connections of these two concepts. He explains the idea of Korbanos. A Korban is not something that we are giving to Hashem to give him energy and power. Rather a Korban is intended to help perfect a person to be more complete and to grow to be a better more spiritually aligned individual.

The definition of Avoda Zara is giving power to something by bringing sacrifices to it, thus giving it power to bring positive energy into their lives. This is not a deception, it is a real practice of using Mazalos and other forces to bring blessing and good fortune into one’s life, but it is assur.

Hashem commanded us: ‘Build a Mizbeach for me out of stone’. Stone is a composite of many particles of earth. Once it is a stone, it will always be just one stone of the same size. It will not get bigger nor will it procreate. However, a tree is something that needs nourishment in order to grow and gain strength.

Hashem is telling us, ‘I don’t want you to associate the Mizbeach with what I need, because I don’t need. The Mizbeach is to bring perfection to you and to help you be a better person. Therefore do not build the Mizbeach out of wood, which connotes something that needs to be given to in order for it to be more powerful, rather build it out of stone, which is powerful just as it is.

This, the Meshech Chochmah explains, is the role of the Shofet. He has to rule B’Tzedek, unbiased, he may not accept from others and he must judge honestly. This explains the idea brought in the Talmud, Shabbos 11a, that ‘any judge who judges honestly is considered to be a parter with Hashem in the creation of the world.’ Meaning, the fact that he is judging honestly, shows that he is not taking his power from others and giving to those who give him that power, rather he is judging fairly and with honesty. However, one who appoints a judge who is corrupt, is considered as if he planted an Asheira tree, as he is only as powerful as much as people give him the power and therefore is favorable towards them. (Sanhedrin 7b)

I would like to take this a step further to explain the Daas Sofrim as to the connection to the Melech.

The Shoftim have to eradicate the concept of giving power to receive bracha, and to instill the concept that Hashem has whatever power He needs and does not need us to nourish Him. Once we are pure, and have this concept ingrained within our souls, can we appoint a king, who is a manifestation of Godliness in this world. The Torah says, ‘a king should not have too many wives or horses rather he should have a Sefer Torah and teach Torah.’

Perhaps this means that it is not the obligation, nor should it be the inclination, of Klal Yisrael to gift the king with presents to increase his power. The power of the Melech Yisrael comes from Hashem and will be just what it needs to be. The Melech will be able to have a positive impact on the Jewish people just fine by himself. He does not need our gifts.

As we get ready for Rosh Hashanah and the re-coronation of the Malchus Hashem, we read Parshas Shoftim, to remind us that it is time to re-assess what we are doing. We should be getting close to Hashem by being spiritually aligned, thus perfecting our relationship with Him and turning us into complete people.

We should not chas v’shalom do things the wrong way, by being dishonest and unfair to others. Nor should we be focusing that which we do, as something we are giving to Hashem. Rather our focus should be to perfect our Divine relationship further, and bring the ultimate Nachas Ruach to Hashem. Once, we can do this, we can welcome Rosh HaShanah with confidence and coronate HaKadosh Baruch Hu once again in his everlasting kingship.

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