Newsletter Parashat Shofetim

Thursday & Friday

Begins THIS SUNDAY morning

@ 7 am


6 am


Amud Yomi Flyer_Makos_1.jpg
Sephardic World    
Meeting – Sunday 23rd August 2020

This week we are doing something out of the ordinary! Dr. Judith R. Cohen is a performer and ethno-musicologist specializing in Jewish folk music. She is perhaps best-known for her work with Judeo-Spanish Sephardic songs. She has also spent a lot of time with crypto-Jewish communities in Portugal, learning and recording their musical tradition. Her talk will include live music as well as recordings from Portugal.

Please join us live as this meeting will only remain online a short time. As well as her academic work and live performances, Judith has recorded several CDs of Sephardic music which can be bought through her website at:

Topic: Adeus Vila de Belmonte: Music in the lives of Crypto-Jews in Portugal
Time: Sunday Aug 23rd, 2020 07:00 PM London (This is 7pm British summer time; GMT +1, which is 2pm in New York)

Join Zoom Meeting

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Best wishes,

Ton Tielen and David Mendoza
Sephardic World  


לוח זמני תפלה לקיץ תש"פ

Summer Timetable 5780 – 2020

מוצאי שבת



סוף זמן קראת שמע

זמן שבת

פלג מנחה (תה״ד)

פלג מנחה (לבוש)

מנחה וקבלת שבת


שבת פרשת




to be read before

to be
lit by


Candle lighting

& Kabbalat Shabbat



















21/22 Aug


For those not in the Bet Hakeneset, but wishing to bring in Shabbat with the Kahal, candles should be lit about 30 minutes after the time listed for Minha and Kabbalat Shabbat. (Unless the time listed in the ‘latest candle lighting’ column is earlier, when candles should be lit by that time, in all cases.  


Q & A on Parashat Shofetim
  1. What is the role of shoftim? What is the role of shotrim?
  2. What qualifications should one look for when appointing a judge?
  3. May a judge accept a bribe if only for the purpose of judging fairly?
  4. What is the source for the concept "seek out a good beit din"?
  5. Although the avot built matzevot, the Torah later forbade doing so. Why?
  6. "You will come to…the judge who will be in those days." It's impossible to visit a judge living at a different time, so why must the Torah add these apparently extra words?
  7. What does Hashem promise a king who doesn't amass much gold, doesn't raise many horses and doesn't marry many wives?
  8. How many Torah scrolls must the king have?
  9. How was King Shaul punished for disobeying a minor command of the Prophet Shmuel?
  10. Certain kosher animals are not included in the law of "chazeh, shok, and keiva." Which ones?
  11. Families of kohanim served in the Beit Hamikdash on a rotational basis. When was this rotation system implemented?
  12. Which three categories of false prophets are executed?
  13. What does it mean to "prepare the way" to the cities of refuge?
  14. How many witnesses are meant when the Torah writes the word eid (witness)?
  15. "Through the mouth of two witnesses…." What types of testimony does this verse invalidate?
  16. If witnesses in a capital case are proven to be zomemim (false-conspirators) before their intended victim is executed, how are they punished?
  17. Why does the section about going to war follow the laws governing witnesses?
  18. The Jewish army is warned of four "scare-tactics" the enemy might employ. What are they?
  19. When a murder victim is found in a field, who determines which city is closest?
  20. What happens if the murderer is found after the calf's neck was broken?

All references are to the verses and Rashi's commentary, unless otherwise stated.

  1. 16:18 – Shoftim are judges who pronounce judgment. Shotrim are officers who enforce it.
  2. 16:18 – That he is expert in the law and that he is righteous.
  3. 16:19 – No, because it will sway his judgment.
  4. 16:20 – "Tzedek tzedek tirdof…."
  5. 16:22 – Because the Canaanites used them for idolatry.
  6. 17:9 – To teach that although a judge may not be as eminent as judges of previous generations, we must obey him nevertheless.
  7. 17:18 – That his kingdom will endure.
  8. 17:18 – Two. One stays in his treasury and one he keeps with him.
  9. 17:20 – He lost his kingship.
  10. 18:3 – Chayot (non-domestic-type animals).
  11. 18:8 – During the time of David and Shmuel.
  12. 18:20 – One who prophesies something he didn't hear, something told to another prophet, or prophecies in the name of an idol.
  13. 19:3 – To post direction signs saying "refuge" at the crossroads.
  14. 19:15 – Two, unless otherwise specified.
  15. 19:15 – Written testimony and testimony translated from a language which the judges don't understand.
  16. 19:19 – They are put to death.
  17. 20:1 – To teach that if the Jewish People execute fair judgment they will be victorious in war.
  18. 20:3 –
    a) Changing their shields
    b) Making their horses stomp and whinny
    c) Shouting
    d) Blowing horns.
  19. 21:2 – The Sanhedrin.
  20. 21:9- He is tried and, if guilty, executed.


Halachot from Maran Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Ztz'l  

חודש אלול –
מעשה במרן זצ"ל בענין שמיעת מוזיקה

כתב מרן רבינו עובדיה יוסף זצ"ל: חסד גדול
עשה ה' יתברך עם עמו ישראל, כאשר גילה להם, כי יום המשפט הוא יום א' בתשרי. (כי
באמת, גם אומות העולם נדונים ביום זה, אבל אין להם ידיעה על כך, ולכן אינם
מתכוננים כראוי ליום זה
ומפסידים טובה הרבה). וכמו שנאמר
בתהלים, "תִּקְעוּ בַחֹדֶשׁ שׁוֹפָר בַּכֵּסֶה לְיוֹם חַגֵּנוּ, כִּי חֹק
לְיִשְׂרָאֵל הוּא מִשְׁפָּט לֵאלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב". כי בנוהג שבעולם, מי שעבר על
החוק, ונתפס אצל שוטר והלה יקחהו באופן מיידי לפני שופט, להשפט בצורה מהירה, הלא
קרוב לודאי שלא יוכל להתמודד מול האשמות שהוא מואשם בהן. מה שאין כן אילו תנתן לו
האפשרות לדעת את מועד המשפט, ויוכל להתמודד ולהתיעץ עם עורך דין טוב, בכדי שידע מה
לטעון במשפט ומי יסנגר עליו, שאז בודאי יש תקוה שיוכל לצאת זכאי במשפטו

כמו כן אנו, מיום ראש חודש
אלול, מריעים בשופר וקמים לסליחות ומתכוננים ליום הדין שאומרים בו הרת עולם היום
יעמיד במשפט כל יצורי עולם, ואז מתחילים גם כן לומר בתפילה, המלך הקדוש, המלך
המשפט, ובאלול אנו מתכוננים כראוי להכין פרקליטים גדולים לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא,
ואלו הם פרקליטיו של אדם, תורה ומצוות ומעשים טובים (שבת לב.), ובתוספתא אמרו,
צדקה וגמילות חסדים
פרקליטים גדולים הם בין ישראל
לאביהם שבשמים. וכן שנינו באבות, כל העושה לו מצוה אחת, קונה לו פרקליט אחד. ואם
הפרקליט הוא גיבור ואיש מלחמה, כגון שהוא נוצר מפי תלמיד חכם העוסק בתורה, בודאי
שאז אותם המקטרגים לא יהיו אלא כשועלים קטנים מחבלים כרמים, שגערה אחת מאת סנגור
כזה תשתק את כולם. וכמו שאנו אומרים בסליחות, חתום פה שטן ואל ישטין עלינו, ויעמוד
מלאך ומליץ טוב בעדינו, הוא יגיד יושרנו. הרי פתח רחב להוציא אותנו זכאים לפני ה'
, וכמו שאמרו במסכת ראש השנה, על הפסוק, כי מי גוי
גדול אשר לו אלקים קרובים אליו, כה' אלקינו בכל קראנו אליו

רבינו האר"י ז"ל כתב בשער הפסוקים, על
הפסוק העוסק בבריחת הרוצח לעיר מקלט, ששם לא יאונה לו כל רע, וכפי שנאמר "אנה
לידו ושמתי לך" (מקום אשר ינוס שמה). ראשי תיבות "אלול", לרמוז כי
חודש אלול ניתן לתשובה, ושב ורפא לו. והכל צריכים לחזור בתשובה, וכן אמרו על
הפסוק: ומל ה' אלהיך "את לבבך ואת לבב" זרעך
, ראשי תיבות אלול,
לרמוז על הבא ליטהר, מסייעין אותו. ובפרט בענין התשובה שהקדוש ברוך הוא אמר
לישראל, פתחו לי פתח כחודו של מחט, ואני אפתח לכם פתח כפתחו של אולם. וזוהי הסיעתא
דשמיא לחזור בתשובה

ועוד נרמז חודש אלול בפסוק, ומשלוח מנות
"איש לרעהו ומתנות לאביונים", ראשי תיבות אלול. כי זהו הזמן הראוי ביותר
למצות הצדקה, שמכפרת עוון. וכמו שאמרו במדרש, הקרבנות אין מכפרים אלא על השוגג,
והצדקה מכפרת בין על השוגג ובין על המזיד

בימי חודש אלול, על האדם להתבונן ולעשות חשבון
נפש עם עצמו, להתחזק בעבודת ה'. ואפילו מי שזכה לעבוד את ה' כראוי, עליו להתחזק
ביתר שאת בימים אלה, ברצינות גדולה ובריכוז, כדי שלא יאבד ימים יקרים אלה

ומעשה היה, לפני כשש שנים,
שנסע מרן זצוק"ל ברכבו לאיזה שיעור תורני, ובשעת הנסיעה רצה הנהג שלו להסב לו
קורת רוח, לכן הפעיל "דיסק" עם מוזיקה ייחודית שמרן זצ"ל היה אוהב
לשמוע. פנה אליו מרן זצ"ל בנעימות וביקש ממנו שיכבה את המוזיקה
, מהרי ימים אלה הם ימי חודש אלול!!! ישמע חכם ויוסף לקח!

The Month of Elul

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l
writes that Hashem bestowed a great kindness upon his Jewish nation by
revealing to them that the Day of Judgment is on the First of Tishrei (for in
truth, the other nations of the world are also judged on this day, but since
they do not know about this, they do not prepare themselves accordingly and
they miss out on a substantial benefit), as the verse states, “Blow the Shofar
on the [new] month, on the designated day of our festival. For it is a statute
for Israel, a [day of] judgment for the G-d of Yaakov.” Usually, if one breaks
the law and is caught by a police officer, if the officer takes him immediately
in front of a judge to be judged in a swift manner, it is almost certain that
the defendant will not be able to cope with the charges being leveled against
him. If, however, he is made known of the court-date and given the chance to
meet with and seek adequate legal counsel and know who will represent him in
court, he surely has hope to be found innocent in his case.

Similarly, from the day of Rosh
Chodesh Elul, we begin blowing the Shofar and waking up early in the morning to
recite Selichot (prayer service for atonement) in preparation for the Day of
Judgment when we will proclaim, “Today is the world’s birthday; today He shall
make [everyone] stand for judgment, all creations of the world,” and is
likewise the day we begin to recite “Ha’Melech Ha’Kadosh” and “Ha’Melech
” in our prayers. During Elul, we prepare great “attorneys” before
Hashem; one’s “attorneys” are Torah, Mitzvot, and worthy deeds (Shabbat 32a).
The Tosefta states, “Charity and acts of kindness are great defenders between
Israel and their Father in Heaven.” We have also learned in Pirkei Avot, “One
who performs one Mitzvah acquires for himself one defending attorney.” If the
defender is strong and mighty, such as one formed by a Torah scholar who delves
in Torah, certainly the other prosecuting angels will only be like small foxes
in comparison and one roar from the defending angel shall be sufficient to
silence them all. As we say in Selichot, “Seal the mouth of Satan so that he
may not prosecute us; may a good-speaking advisor stand up for us and speak of
our righteousness.” This is a tremendous opportunity to allow us be found
innocent in the eyes of Hashem, as the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah expounds the
verse, “For who is a great nation that has a God who is close to him, like
Hashem our G-d [who is close to us] whenever we call him.”

Rabbeinu HaAri z”l writes
in his Sha’ar Ha’Pesukim regarding the verse which deals with the fleeing of a
murderer to a City of Refuge where no harm will befall him, as the verse states
(in Hebrew), “Eenah Le’Yado VeSamti
Lecha,” which is the acronym of “Elul.” This
hints to us that Elul is the month of repentance and if one returns, he shall
be healed. All must repent, as the verse states, “U’mal Hashem Elokecha Et
Levavecha Ve’et Levav
,” which is likewise an acronym of “Elul,” to hint that if one
comes to purify himself, he is aided from Above. This is especially so
regarding repentance about which Hashem tells the Jewish nation, “Open for me
like the opening of a needle and I shall open for you like the opening of a
hall.” This refers to the Heavenly assistance offered to repent.

The word “Elul” is also hinted in
the verse, “U’mishloach Manot Ish Le’Re’ehu
U’Matanot La’Evyonim,”
to teach us that this is the most opportune time to fulfill the Mitzvah of
charity, which atones for sins. As the Midrash tells us, “Offerings atone only
for sins performed unknowingly, but charity atones for sins performed knowingly
or unknowingly.” 

During the month of Elul, one must
carry out self-introspection and strengthen one’s self in the service of
Hashem. Even one who serves Hashem properly must strengthen himself even more
during these days amid much seriousness and focus so as not to lose out on
these precious days.

An incident once occurred
approximately six years ago when Maran zt”l was on his way to deliver
a Torah class. His personal driver wanted Maran to relax and enjoy himself a
little so he turned on a CD of special music that Maran enjoyed. Maran zt”l
turned to the driver and pleasantly requested that he turn off the music,
for we are in the midst of the month of Elul!

Shabbat Shalom

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