Shoftim - The Queen for This People

Talk about our recent trip to see Buckingham Palace and how impressed we were with Queen Victoria's Royal Coach. I even asked one of the staff there whether they are allowed to sit on Queen Victoria's throne (or that of the Queen and Prince Philip)!

Mention that I am related to the Queen by two marriages!

I am reminded of this because....

(יד) כִּֽי־תָבֹ֣א אֶל־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֨ר ה' אֱלֹקֶ֙יךָ֙ נֹתֵ֣ן לָ֔ךְ וִֽירִשְׁתָּ֖הּ וְיָשַׁ֣בְתָּה בָּ֑הּ וְאָמַרְתָּ֗ אָשִׂ֤ימָה עָלַי֙ מֶ֔לֶךְ כְּכָל־הַגּוֹיִ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר סְבִיבֹתָֽי׃ (טו) שׂ֣וֹם תָּשִׂ֤ים עָלֶ֙יךָ֙ מֶ֔לֶךְ אֲשֶׁ֥ר יִבְחַ֛ר ה' אֱלֹקֶ֖יךָ בּ֑וֹ מִקֶּ֣רֶב אַחֶ֗יךָ תָּשִׂ֤ים עָלֶ֙יךָ֙ מֶ֔לֶךְ לֹ֣א תוּכַ֗ל לָתֵ֤ת עָלֶ֙יךָ֙ אִ֣ישׁ נָכְרִ֔י אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹֽא־אָחִ֖יךָ הֽוּא׃ (טז) רַק֮ לֹא־יַרְבֶּה־לּ֣וֹ סוּסִים֒ וְלֹֽא־יָשִׁ֤יב אֶת־הָעָם֙ מִצְרַ֔יְמָה לְמַ֖עַן הַרְבּ֣וֹת ס֑וּס וַֽה' אָמַ֣ר לָכֶ֔ם לֹ֣א תֹסִפ֗וּן לָשׁ֛וּב בַּדֶּ֥רֶךְ הַזֶּ֖ה עֽוֹד׃ (יז) וְלֹ֤א יַרְבֶּה־לּוֹ֙ נָשִׁ֔ים וְלֹ֥א יָס֖וּר לְבָב֑וֹ וְכֶ֣סֶף וְזָהָ֔ב לֹ֥א יַרְבֶּה־לּ֖וֹ מְאֹֽד׃ (יח) וְהָיָ֣ה כְשִׁבְתּ֔וֹ עַ֖ל כִּסֵּ֣א מַמְלַכְתּ֑וֹ וְכָ֨תַב ל֜וֹ אֶת־מִשְׁנֵ֨ה הַתּוֹרָ֤ה הַזֹּאת֙ עַל־סֵ֔פֶר מִלִּפְנֵ֥י הַכֹּהֲנִ֖ים הַלְוִיִּֽם׃ (יט) וְהָיְתָ֣ה עִמּ֔וֹ וְקָ֥רָא ב֖וֹ כָּל־יְמֵ֣י חַיָּ֑יו לְמַ֣עַן יִלְמַ֗ד לְיִרְאָה֙ אֶת־ה' אֱלֹקָ֔יו לִ֠שְׁמֹר אֶֽת־כָּל־דִּבְרֵ֞י הַתּוֹרָ֥ה הַזֹּ֛את וְאֶת־הַחֻקִּ֥ים הָאֵ֖לֶּה לַעֲשֹׂתָֽם׃ (כ) לְבִלְתִּ֤י רוּם־לְבָבוֹ֙ מֵֽאֶחָ֔יו וּלְבִלְתִּ֛י ס֥וּר מִן־הַמִּצְוָ֖ה יָמִ֣ין וּשְׂמֹ֑אול לְמַעַן֩ יַאֲרִ֨יךְ יָמִ֧ים עַל־מַמְלַכְתּ֛וֹ ה֥וּא וּבָנָ֖יו בְּקֶ֥רֶב יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ (ס)

(14) If, after you have entered the land that the LORD your God has assigned to you, and taken possession of it and settled in it, you decide, “I will set a king over me, as do all the nations about me,”

(15) you shall be free to set a king over yourself, one chosen by the LORD your God. Be sure to set as king over yourself one of your own people; you must not set a foreigner over you, one who is not your kinsman.

(16) Moreover, he shall not keep many horses or send people back to Egypt to add to his horses, since the LORD has warned you, “You must not go back that way again.”

(17) And he shall not have many wives, lest his heart go astray;

nor shall he amass silver and gold to excess.

(18) When he is seated on the throne of his kingdom, he shall have a copy of this Torah written for him on a scroll by the Levitical priests. (19) Let it remain with him and let him read in it all his life, so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God, to observe faithfully every word of this Teaching as well as these laws.

(20) Thus he will not act haughtily toward his fellows or deviate from the Instruction to the right or to the left, to the end that he and his descendants may reign long in the midst of Israel.

What differentiates the Kings in the Bible from their contemporaries

Taking an example of Egypt - the Pharaohs saw themselves as direct descendants of the sun god ra - hence names

like "Ra (lit. the 'one who bore him) meses" - they were above the law.

Later on, the Roman Emperors did the same thing - to justify their status as leaders of all men.

Yet, here the Bible is emphatic in three areas:

  • he shall not keep many horses
  • And he shall not have many wives
  • nor shall he amass silver and gold to excess
  • he shall have a copy of this Torah written for him on a scroll by the Levitical priests
  • Thus he will not act haughtily toward his fellows or deviate from the Instruction to the right or to the left

At all times, the King must remember that he is a human king, who rules over fellow human beings. He is just as answerable to Gd as they are.

Lord Rabbi Sacks (Covenant and Conversation)

"Judaism is an argument for the limitation, secularisation and transformation of power:


Israel's kings were the only rulers in the ancient world without the power to legislate. Only Gd legislates. The kings may issue temporary regulations to improve the ordering of society but so can many rabbis, courts or local councils


Kings were not High Priests and High Priests were not kings. Jews were the first nation to create a separation of powers. When the Hasmoneans combined the two, it proved to be disastrous


The idea of the servant leadership is fundamental to Judaism. The King has to have his own Sefer Torah which he will keep by his side, to remind himself that he is not superior to his subjects.

"Humulity is the essence of royalty - because to lead, is to serve.

What happened to King Solomon when he....

  • he did keep many horses
  • married many wives
  • amassed silver and gold to excess
  • and presumably didn't read a great deal of the Torah written for him on a scroll by the Levitical priests

As soon as he died, the kingdom was split and as a result, this led to the eventual downfall of both the Kingdom of Judah and Israel. Where are the 10 tribes today?

I read an amusing story this week:

Daily Mail 31st August:

A group of American tourists failed to recognise the Queen after they met her walking on her Scottish estate.

The 93-year-old monarch had been out for a stroll in the grounds of Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, accompanied by protection officer Richard Griffin.

She was dressed in tweeds and wearing a headscarf when she came across the group of tourists.

Unaware of who she was they struck up a conversation and asked her if she lived in the area to which she replied that she did indeed have a house nearby.

They went on to question whether she had ever met the Queen herself.

Not wanting to reveal who she was, she enjoyed a private joke as she gestured towards Mr Griffin and said: 'No but this policeman has.'

Mr Griffin has worked closely with the royal family for more than 30 years.

Speaking to the Times, he said that the group moved on after a short while and remained oblivious to her true identity.


One of the qualities of the Queen that I respect the most is that despite her surroundings, the Palaces and Castles, the gold Carriages and precious jewels in her possession - she has never forgotten that she is one of the people and that her duty to us, her subjects, is never compromised by any of the above.

A deeply religious individual, she utters the same prayers as millions of other Britons and never forgets that she is in the position she has lived much of her life, by the Grace of Gd.

On this Shabbat, like every other, we will recite a prayer for the Royal Family and ask Gd to protect them. We do so, because we know that we are blessed to have her in our lives.

She embodies to a tee, the idea of monarchy described in this week's parasha.

May she rule over use for many more years and continue to embody the kind of leader that Gd Himself had in mind when Moses delivered his beautiful oratories more than three millennia ago.

Shabbat Shalom