In Parasha Shoftim (judges) this week, we learn about many leaders of the Children of Israel – judges, prophets, Kohanim (priests), the special Kohen for war, the Levites who cared for and guarded the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and later the Temple, and the king.
No, not Elvis, but the real king.
Here’s what we learn about the king.
– When the people settle Canaan, they will decide to set a king over them.
– The king will be chosen by God.
– The king cannot be a foreigner.
– He cannot have too many horses, as this may cause him to travel back to Egypt, where the Israelites were enslaved.
– He cannot have too many wives, “so that his heart not turn astray” (with too many wives, some would be idol-worshippers, and encourage the king and the people to worship idols).
– He shall not greatly increase his gold and silver.
– He will write for himself two copies of the Torah – one to be kept in the royal treasury, and the other to accompany him at all times.
– He will observe all the words of the Torah and these decrees, and perform them, so that his heart does not become haughty over his brothers and not turn from the commandments right or left.
In the Jewish kingdom, even the king has rules that must be obeyed. The proof of these rules was that the wisest king of all time, Solomon, broke several of them with bad results – he had many horses that took his agents back to Egypt, he had many wives who were bad influences, and his taxes were a hardship on the people.
I think the most important rule about the king is the last. Having the Torah with him at all times would inspire him with the history of our outstanding ancestors and their devotion to God and the Jewish people. It would comfort him in times of trouble with the knowledge of God’s love and protection for the Children of Israel. It would provide the example of the greatest leader our people, Moses, who was entirely devoted to God and the people and was the most humble of men.
What this means is that you can train using the same manual as the king! The Torah – handbook for kings and Scouts.