Parshat Shoftim: Judges of the Supreme Court

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04 Sep 2008
Arts & Media

Welcome to the big city,

A melting pot of ideas, expressions –

Thought, speech, action.


Sometimes it never sleeps;

Other times it never stops sleeping.


Streets laden with a thousand travelers,

(road scholars)

Leading in a million directions:

Pavement, sentiment, sacrament, firmament;

Asphalt, whose fault? Double fault but never



More is the city:


Some of brick and stone

But the ones of which we speak –

Flesh and blood


Man – a city, a world, a universe…


And if the cities in which we live

Need direction, law and order,

How much more so the cities which

Live in us


Judges and officers

Shall you appoint

In all your cities


In all your cities, at all you gates:


Gates, city gates:

Gates let things in

Gates let things out;

Gates allow the world inside

To affect the world outside;

And the outside world to

Affect the inside world…


Gates to your heart, gates to your mind –

Walk with a gait, smile in gaiety, gated

On your nerves


These shall be guarded, controlled

By you, lest they be guarded, controlled

By something, someone else –


Law & Order:


You shall appoint judges and officers to these gates –


Judges: decree and decision, through analyzing the situation,

Hearing the testimonies and understanding the circumstances;


Officers: fulfilling, implementing the decree, the decision by

Determination, grit, strength and pure will power…


If judgment, clarity, education does not lead to action

Then something is not right. Because we live in a world

Sometimes antithetical to righteous judgment, a world

Where our purity is covered in soot, we need officers,

People of action to actually shake off the dust, move

Away the accumulated dirt, blow on the tiny glimmer

Of spark so that the flame will arise and the light and

Warmth will turn the cold and dark city into a place called



Every day is judgment day in the home court,

The most supreme court of all supreme courts –

After all, this one is created in the divine image.


(The day you stop evaluating is the day the jury is hung.)


There is a judge that presides over a kangaroo court

And one that presides over a food court and still another

Presiding over and under a tennis court.


This judge presides over the most supreme

Sublime, superior court of all – the court called



So all rise for the Honorable You,

Presiding over the most supreme court of all –

Your own true self


Mendel Jacobson is a writer, poet and journalist living in Brooklyn. His weekly poetry can be seen at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.