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times to be shoftim, times to be shotrim

Written by d fine

The sedra opens with the command to appoint shoftim and shotrim in our cities. What are these two positions? Rashi explains that shoftim are the judges who decide what the outcome of a case is. Shotrim, Rashi says, are the court officers who make sure that the verdict is carried out eg make sure that Reuven does pay the money to Shimon. The mussar vort (I heard from Rabbi Kelaty) here is that there are times in life when one needs to be a shofet, and times to be a shoter. This means that there are times when one needs to decide on a direction to take (a shofet), but equally sometimes one must go with whatever decision they have made and make sure the carry it out – a shoter. This means sticking with the decision through thick and thin, and not necessarily changing it until you are convinced that it just doesn’t go. After all, if one keeps changing their decisions after each slight hitch in the plans then one is never going to come to a firm decision.

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