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Parshot Festivals

Man the gates of your personal kingdom

  • RabbiBrett
Consider this body-mind paradigm shift. What if we viewed the body as a mini kingdom, with the head as the supreme judge and king, the heart as the place of vibrancy and energy, and the limbs as the hubs of busy activity?
by Rabbi Dani Brett, Torah City Wide, Cape Town | Sep 05, 2019

And, then, there are many other mini kingdoms, as well as other entities that interact with each of these kingdoms in a variety of ways.

What are the gates to the kingdoms? What are the access points for receiving information and stimulation? How do we interface with the other kingdoms around us, as well as the myriad other entities we find ourselves encountering umpteen times a day? The gates into our kingdom are none other than our senses, of course.

Parshat Shoftim seems to have this view of the human being. In it, the Torah instructs Jewish society to establish moral and effective shoftim veshotrim (judges and officers) – judges to decide the law, and officers to enforce it. The language used by the verse tells us to place these shoftim veshotrim at the gate of every city.

What’s curious, though, is that the Torah uses the singular for gates – she’arecha – as opposed to she’areichem which would be the more appropriate phrase for the communal appointment of judges.

One explanation is that the Torah is drawing our attention to the responsibility of Jewish society not just to place judges and officers at the public access points to a city, but for each individual to do just that at the access points to our own personal kingdom. We are urged to protect the interface points to our body and our inner world. These, too, are the gates to which the Torah is alluding.

How many types of gates? We teach children about the five senses. Each of those is, in fact, a gateway between us and the world, and it is there that judges and officers need to be on high alert and fully operational, 24/7, 365 days a year.

We need to first judge by assessing each stimulant that arrives as being either positive, negative, or neutral, or put another way, forbidden, allowed, or a matter of personal taste and choice. Is it really wise to let in this thing knocking at the gate? Or, is that other thing not heading for this gate in fact something that should be attracted?

Then, officers need to be dispatched to act upon those thought-out, value-based conclusions, with decisive action to bring some things into contact with sensory receivers, and others away.

Should that food be coming in, and should those words be going out? Is it actually a good idea to hear those ideas, or see those things, and what better alternatives are there?

Protect your kingdom. You be the judge. And the officers.

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