Parashat Shoftim

The prophet Samuel is notorious for chastising the Jewish people when they asked for a king. In Parashat Shoftim, however, we see that God permits Bnai Yisrael to appoint a king for themselves when they settle in the land of Israel. Why would Samuel take such offense at the people’s request for a king when Parashat Shoftim explicitly mentions that God will allow this to occur?

An answer, offered by the Tosefta, is that the Jewish people might have wanted a king not because they actually felt the need for such leadership, but rather because they wanted to keep up with the Joneses (i.e. – the other nations).

Bnai Yisrael took the legal shortcut – they asked for a human ruler as it was too difficult for them to feel entirely secure with God, a King who could not be seen. How often do we take shortcuts in our own lives? Unlike Bnai Yisrael, let us work to take on and accept challenges, that may bring initial anxiety, but will lead to opportunities for growth.

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