Parshas Shoftim
Deuteronomy 16:18 - 21:9

Knowing the Boundaries of Your Social Position...©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of mysticism in Hebrew Gematria is dedicated in the loving memory of Mr. Paul Sakash, may he rest in peace.

Where is your social place in Yiddishkeit? Are you powerful? Are you wealthy? Are you poor? Are you powerless and vulnerable? Do you look down on other Jews? Are you forced to look up to the powerful? Where is your place? Are your boundaries wealth? Are your boundaries education? Are your boundaries religion? Are you feeling, 'My child should not marry lower than their financial class, educational position or religious dynasty?'

Well, dear reader, the majority of articles on JewishPath are read by the very wealthy and the very poor.

JewishPath has an incredible balance in all areas of educational position. We have a very strong following from among the best universities of the world {many link to us} as well as readers with little education...

JewishPath appeals to people of all walks of life, from the very observant Jew to non Jewish readers of other religions.

We thank G-d that over 200,000 articles were studied on JewishPath in our first year on the internet!!

Yet in hundreds of articles we did not discuss social position among Jews until last week when we discussed Jewish Charity.

Holy reader, the issue of social class often arises. It arises when we invite others to our children's Bris Milah, Pidyin Haben, Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah, wedding, etc... Social position arises on Shabbos around our Shabbos table with who accepted our Shabbos meal invitation and with who rejected our Shabbos meal invitation. Social position arises with the thought of those we would never consider inviting for a Shabbos meal and with the thought of those we would never consider an invitation from.

In this week's parsha we have an interesting implication for all Yiddishkeit. That implication is introduced in Rashi's comment on Deuteronomy 17:8-11: "If a matter of law is too abstruse for you -- between blood and blood, between decision and decision, and between leprosy and leprosy matters under dispute in your city, you shall rise and ascend to the place that Hashem your G-d, will have chosen. You are to come before the Kohanim - Levium and the judges officiating during those days; you will inquire and they will tell you the legal decision. You are to act according to the word that they tell you from that place that Hashem will have chosen; you are to be careful to fulfill exactly as they instruct you and upon the law that they state to you, are you to act; do not deviate from the word they tell you, neither right nor left."

Ibn Ezra states that a local person is selected to be the leader, the judge of both legal and religious questions. Rashi states that the judge selected must be very careful not to show favoritism by "being gentle with one but harsh with the other, or from requiring one to stand while the other is seated..."

Now let's consider who we would want for a judge. Would we want a person who would be unfair, unjust, one who shows favoritism, one who accepts bribes or one whose rulings differ between parties? NO! NO!!

We would want a judge who showed no partiality to anyone. If that is the case then the judge would find it necessary to attend every Bris Milah, Pidyin Haben, Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah, wedding, etc.. with or without invitation or NOT to attend any! Which do you want? Bear with this thought for just a minute...

That would mean that a just judge would be required to eat in every home in the community at least once before accepting a second invitation. It would mean that a just judge would find it necessary to invite everyone to their home once before he would offer a second invitation to anyone, etc..

Holy reader, such exact fairness may seem so far, so distant to us. Yet if such a person did live in our community, consider the impact if that person were the judge that everyone had to consult on both legal and religious matters. This is how social positions dissolve...

Dear reader, we should desire to at least attempt to emulate such levels of fairness. Think of how this would dissolve social positions. Think of how this would create real community goodness. Holy reader, the intention here is to cause us to consider how we each contribute to the social boundaries of our lives and of our temples / shuls and of our communities. Just as we contribute to these wrong boundaries, we can remove them!!

We read that our judge could experience difficulty between three areas:
between blood and blood, between decision and decision {or one court's din and another court's din} and between leprosy and leprosy {what is leprosy and what is not leprosy, etc.}. Now the Torah addresses the Kohanim's, the Levium's and the Judges' conduct in determining these matters before even addressing what the potential problems may be. This teaches us the extreme importance of a judge's fairness. This directs us to the Torah's position on what type of behavior we should be emulating... that of total fairness to all people...

Now in the realm of difficulties we first see Bayn - Dawm - Li Dawm, meaning between blood and blood. This also refers to silver and gold. The Gematria of Bayn Dawm Li Dawm is 180 which is the same as Zaw Hawv - Vi Cheh Seef, meaning Gold and Silver. In other words, we have problems between blood {between husband and wife, between parents and children, and between Jew and Jew}. We have problems of social status between those having gold and silver and those who have little. Gold and silver {wealth} establish social position just as the lack of it establishes zero social position. Gold and silver represent status!

From right to left:

Bayn - Dawm - Li Dawm
180 = Mem = 40 Dalet = 4 Lamid = 30 Mem = 40 Dalet = 4 Nun = 50 Yud =10 Bais = 2

Zaw Hawv - Vi Cheh Seef
180 = Pey = 80 Samech = 60 Chof = 20 Vav = 6 + Bais = 2 Hey = 5 Zayin =7

We read Bayn - Den - Li Den, meaning between court and court. This refers to pure decisions, righteous decisions, just decisions.The Gematria for Bayn - Den - Li Den is 220 which is the same Gematria for Taw Hor, meaning pure / clean, as in the judge who remains unaffected by outside pressures, as in the judge who attempts to make pure and righteous decisions.

From right to left:

Bayn - Den - Li Den
220 = Nun 50 Yud 10 Dalet 4 Lamid 30 + Nun 50 Yud 10 Dalet 4 + Nun 50 Yud 10 Bais 2

Taw Hor
220 = Reish = 200 + Vav = 6 + Hey = 5 + Tes = 9

We read Oo Bayn - Neh Gah - Law Neh Gah, meaning between leprosy and leprosy. In other words sometimes it is difficult to determine if something is loshon harah or not. We have problems determining if our spoken words create pain or not. We have difficulty discerning between the results of our invitations and the rejection of another's invitations. WHAT ARE WE REALLY SAYING BY SUCH ACTIONS? What direct message are we sending? What careless messages are we sending? What are we saying? What message are the words that we speak sending out? The Gematria for Oo Bayn Neh Gah Law Neh Gah is 344 which is the same as the words we project both verbally and by our actions. Law Soo Ach means to think about, to contemplate what we are really saying, what we are really doing to others. Shoo Law Choo means {consider those that we} send away, those that we send out.

From right to left:

Oo Bayn - Neh Gah - Law Neh Gah

Oo Bayn
68 = Nun 50 Yud 10 Bais 2 Vav 6

Neh Gah - Law Neh Gah
276 = Ayin 70 Gimmel 3 Nun 50 Lamid 30 Ayin 70 Gimmel 3 Nun 50

344 = 68 + 276


Law Soo Ach
344 = Ches = 8 + Vav = 6 + Shin = 300 + Lamid = 30

Shoo Law Choo
344 = Vav = 6 + Ches = 8 + Lamid = 30 + Shin = 300

Dear reader, it is up to us to follow the path of righteousness in all areas of the Torah.. As we, G-d willing, walk towards Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur let's consider the impact of our unfair thoughts, of our unrighteous actions or lack of action and our need to be very cautious with the messages we are sending others. We may not be able to reach such lofty goals as those spoken about in this article but we can make an improvement to some degree.

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva  G. Belk

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