Tonight, in honor of Parshat Shoftim, we'll be studying (among other things) this text, from Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch of 19th century Germany:

"Note that even now [in Deut. 16], when the text clearly refers to the time when Israel has already completed its occupation [conquering] of the Land, Scripture still uses the term take possession, with reference to the political security that Israel will gain if it will honor and promote justice.  From this we learn a momentous truth: Israel’s possession of the Land can be called into question at any time, and the Jewish state must take possession of the Land ever anew through the full realization of justice."

To what extent does Hirsch's suggestion, that justice is a pre-requisite for a strong and vital Israel, apply to the modern State of Israel today?

I, for one, think it is hugely relevant.  In a day and age when Israel wields significant power over the Palestinians...a power that is at times over-used, or some would say abused...can the value of tzedek - of justice or righteousness - guide us in how we relate to the (Arab) 'other'?  Equally important: what is the best, and most just, way for us (American Jews) to have this conversation with Israel and her leaders?

Everyone should take the time to check out The New York Times' great conversation piece about whether or not American support for Israel has hurt our credibility on the international stage.  (I find the question ironic since I know there are so many who think that the Obama Administration - and by extension America - could be doing much more to support Israel.)

Discuss away!  I'd love to hear your thoughts on either, or both, of these important questions.  Shabbat Shalom!


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