Parshat Shoftim


לֹא תַסִּיג גְּבוּל רֵעֲךָ

You shall not move your neighbor’s boundary

Parshat Shoftim is filled with many of the laws and ideas that constitute the basis of the Jewish ethical tradition. It also includes one of the most famous lines of the Torah: Justice, justice you shall pursue (Devarim 16:20).

In fact it was the line I had first thought I would comment upon. However as I have little time for blogging and research (which is all the harder as I am not at home), I have selected a moral teaching based on another phrase from this week’s portion: You shall not move your neighbor’s boundary (Devarim 19:14) by Rabbi Avraham Fischer and found online in Torah Insights.

As for the moral lessons to be derived from this commandment, it reminds us not to promote ourselves at the expense of others. Ambition can be a positive motivating force, but it must be based on rightful claims, and it must not deprive others of what is legitimately theirs.

Ambition is not condemned by Judaism but this verse reminds us that there is a Jewish way of being an ambitious person.

12 thoughts on “Parshat Shoftim

  1. The prohibition against hasagat gevul (literally, “encroaching on a boundary” – i.e. infringing on someone else’s rights) teaches us that in Judaism, there’s no such thing as “it’s business, not personal”.

    Where is the shul in the picture?

  2. Sort of like don’t put others down to put yourself up? I am reading Caspian Rain, and I fear some of the characters do just that. A disturbing book, so far. I hate when people do that – very often they do that without knowing that’s what they are doing.

    Yes, the photo is lovely.

    • Thank you for the compliment about the photo. Photographying buildings in rather narrow streets isn’t easy and too often frustrating. I tried to go round the problem by using symmetry.

  3. The more I learn about Judaism, the more I fall in love with it. I love that Hashem has given us a life manual found in the Torah.

    Such beauty and wisdom to be sought from it.

    Thank you for the kind words that you left me.


  4. That is a great lesson, it’s like The Staircase of Life.

    I think reading your post just now gave me a zechus. My neighbor had called me up to ask me to stay in front of her house at 5:05 to take her son off the bus, and tell him that his mother is by the doctor. At 5:26 she called me to ask if he came home. I had forgotten to go outside and wait for the bus. So then I went to her house while she made frantic calls to see what happened to her son. Turns out the buses got to camp late, and they first loaded the buses at 5:00, so her son came home 5:45 from camp. So B”H it all worked out. In the merit of reading some parsha thoughts, I would like to think, nothing bad happened.

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