PARASHAT SHOFTIM

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PARASHAT SHOFTIM

Saturday 7th September 2019 7th Elul 5779

Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9; Isaiah 51:12-52:12; John 14:9-20

by Rabbi Russ Resnik

Fourth Haftarah of Consolation after Tisha B’Av (9th day of Av)

One of the first things to learn in counselling and rabbinic-pastoral care is, “Just show up.” For someone grieving the death of a loved one, or facing their own death or long-term illness, or the trials of a wandering son or daughter, being present with them is more important than any words of comfort or advice you might bring. We sometimes describe care for people in need as “spiritual accompaniment,” and Jewish tradition pictures God himself as the model.

Rabbi Hama once asked: What does it mean, “You shall walk after the Lord your God” (Deut 13:5)? Is it possible for a person to walk and follow in God’s presence? Does not the Torah also say “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire” (Deut 4:24)? But it means to walk after the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be he. . . . The Holy One, blessed be he, visits the ill, as it says, “And God visited him in Elonei Mamreh” (Gen. 18:1); so you shall visit the ill. The Holy One, blessed be he, comforts the bereaved, as it says, “And it was after Abraham died that God blessed his son Isaac…” (Gen. 25:11), so too shall you comfort the bereaved. The Holy One, blessed be he, buries the dead, as it says,