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Shoftim(Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9)

Capital-K King

Parshat Shoftim tells how a Jewish king had to keep a Torah scroll by his side at all times. This scroll was actually written in miniature, and attached to the king's arm.

What was the purpose of keeping this special scroll?

A king has tremendous power: He can collect taxes, confiscate land, and even order executions. This scroll serves as a safeguard against arrogance and abuse of that power. It's a constant reminder that God provides the source of the mortal king's power - and that God is the true King above all.

Further, by keeping the Torah always by his side, the king can use every spare minute to learn from its teachings. In fact, King David awoke every night at midnight to study Torah.

We can apply this to our own lives as well. We all hold some position of power - whether at work, in social circles, or even in the family structure. And it's important to guard against abuse of that power. The Almighty wants a world where people care for each other - and that's why we are put in this position. Power is never for the sake of our own personal gain; rather, it's the means by which the Almighty empowers us to help make this world a better place.

We should always try to keep in mind the ultimate Source of our power. It's a lesson that's particularly appropriate as we approach Rosh Hashana - when we blow the shofar to coronate the "capital-K" King of Kings.

Published: May 6, 2006

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