General Overview: This week’s reading, Shoftim, addresses fundamental issues pertaining to the leadership of the Jewish people. It begins with a discussion regarding judges, and later discusses the concept of the kings, prophets, and the kohanim (priests). Many commandments are introduced in this weeks reading, including: appointing judges, the obligation to follow Rabbinic Law and the words of the prophets, the obligations of a king, the punishment for perjury, laws of war, and the procedure for dealing with unsolved murders.
Aliya Summary: We are commanded to appoint judges in every city of Israel. These judges are instructed to adjudicate fairly. Capital punishment is prescribed for idolatry, and various idolatrous practices are banned. The sacrifices we offer to G‑d must be unblemished. We must follow the rulings of the Sanhedrin, the Rabbinic Supreme Court, and the Oral Law. Refusal to accept the Sanhedrin’s authority is a capital offense.