Intro To Shoftim -

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Resource Type: Shiur in: English
Age: 12-15
Group Size: 5-30
Estimated Time: 30 minutes

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Resource Goal

Intro: In our last shiurim, we focused on Yehoshua. Now, we will move onto Shoftim, and compare it to Yehoshua. We will also outline the two themes in this Perek which will continue throughout Sefer Shoftim.

  1. Lack of leadership manhigut

  2. Failure of Am Israel to kick out the other nations in Israel (hitnachalut- settling the land) which leads to them worshipping avodah zara, as they are then influenced by those nations.

  3. Lack of unity among the shevatim - achdut. They act as separate nations and not as one cohesive unit.

Goals:

(1) The chanichim will see the failures and lack of leadership of the Shoftim generation by contrasting the first two perakim of Shoftim to parallels in Sefer Yehoshua.

(2) The chanichim will realize the issues created due to Bnei Israel not taking initiative to finish conquering the land and kick out the avodah zara worshipping nations.


Resource Contents

Written by- Sarah Gordon

sygordon@gmail.com

Many of the ideas from these shiruim are adapted from the book "Shofet HaShoftim" by Yisroel Rozenson, published by Machon Herzog.

Machal Shiur #3: 

Intro: In our last shiurim, we focused on Yehoshua. Now, we will move onto Shoftim, and compare it to Yehoshua. We will also outline the two themes in this Perek which will continue throughout Sefer Shoftim.

  1. Lack of leadership manhigut

  2. Failure of Am Israel to kick out the other nations in Israel (hitnachalut- settling the land) which leads to them worshipping avodah zara, as they are then influenced by those nations.

  3. Lack of unity among the shevatim - achdut. They act as separate nations and not as one cohesive unit.

Goals:

(1) The chanichim will see the failures and lack of leadership of the Shoftim generation by contrasting the first two perakim of Shoftim to parallels in Sefer Yehoshua.

(2) The chanichim will realize the issues created due to Bnei Israel not taking initiative to finish conquering the land and kick out the avodah zara worshipping nations.

Trigger: Have the chanichim look at the 1st chapter of Shoftim and decide whether Bnei Israel are doing something good or bad. What is happening here? At first glance, it seems Bnei Israel are taking initiative to conquer the land. Seems good! Or is it (Ominous music plays)

They are actually fulfilling exactly what Yehoshua told them to do back in his Sefer.

In Sefer Yehoshua on one hand it seems that the whole land was conquered:

Yehoshua 11:23: The whole land was conquered.

Yehoshua 21:41

But even though the land was conquered on a large scale, on the individual scale, now its up to each of the tribes to go through their portion or nachala and kick out all the avodah zara nations and make sure its conquered. (For example in 1967 Israel conquered the whole Sinai, West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, Golan Heights etc. But all that meant was that our soldiers ran through it and conquered it. It still wasnt settled). Yehoshua led the people to conquer the whole land with Hashems help. But now to finish the job its up to the nations to take initiative. As we said in the 1st shiur Hashem helped us, but we also now have to take steps to fight and conquer the land on our own.

Background to Sefer Shoftim:

Already in Sefer Yehoshua it seems that Yehoshua is telling the people over and over again that they have to take initiative to finish conquering the land:

Yehoshua 18:3:

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3 And Joshua said unto the children of Israel: 'How long are ye slack to go in to possess the land, which the LORD, the God of your fathers, hath given you?

Yehoshua 23: 6-13:

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6 Therefore be ye very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left;

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7 that ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor worship them;

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8 but cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day;

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9 wherefore the LORD hath driven out from before you great nations and mighty; but as for you, no man hath stood against you unto this day.

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10 One man of you hath chased a thousand; for the LORD your God, He it is that fought for you, as He spoke unto you.

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11 Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God.

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12 Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you;

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13 know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive these nations from out of your sight; but they shall be a snare and a trap unto you, and a scourge in your sides, and pricks in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.

There seems to be a contradiction In the 1st sources it seems G-d conquered the whole land and everything is all set. But then we see from Yehoshuas message to the people that they have more work to do! The answer is what we already said Hashem helped Am Israel take over the land on a grand scale but now its up to Bnei Israel as leaders to take initiative and finish the job.

Therefore, Sefer Shoftim takes place after Yehoshua dies, and deals with whether we met our challenge to finish conquering the land or not.

Lets look at the 1st Perek of Shoftim. What words come up over and over again?

These tribes were not able to kick out the other nations.

Are any of these tribes doing a good job of trying, or taking initiative? It seems that Yehuda starts off well, and conquers a lot, and even tries to team up with another Shevet (Shimon) to get the job done, but as you go through the perek, the other tribes are failing miserably and not conquering any part of their land. At first, this seems good, Yehudah is being the leader and taking initiative. But in pasuk 21, we see Binyamin needs help and Yehuda is not there to help them!!! No unity!!!

Look at the whole end of Perek Alef. What is happening here? No-one is kicking out the non-Jews from their lands. Look at the maps. Shevet Dan has to wander all the way up north because non-Jews kicked him out of his nachalah!!! They are either not kicking them out, or making deals with them and letting the stay if they pay taxes bad!

What problems do we see setting in already (no leadership, unity, goyim all over the place) and what issues will this cause in the future? This perek is foreshadowing what is to come.

It even gets to a point in Shoftim Perek 2: 1-6 that an angel has to come to the people and yell at them for not doing their job in conquering the land.

The obvious question that the chanichim will bring up (or should bring up) is why do we even need to kick out the other nations? What is the issue, why cant we let them live with us in peace? Also, isnt this immoral to kick out other nations, or genocide? So the main answer is that since these nations serve avodah zara (which back then was super immoral baal peor, molech putting your kids through fire, a lot of deviant sexual ritualsetc.) we need to get rid of them so that we are not influenced. Its a good opening to talk about negative influences if you are surrounded by people who act a certain way, peer pressure will kick in at a certain point. As for the morality of kicking out the 7 nations we will deal with that in Shiur in a few days.

Sefer Shoftim vs Sefer Yehoshua: A lack of Leadership

When Chazal talk about Sefer Shoftim they describe it in the following way:

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Bava Batra 15b: Which is the generation of foolishness? The generation of the Shoftim.

Why are Chazal coming down so negatively about this leadership period? We will see that this is because throughout Shoftim, all we will see is a lack of leadership on the side of the people.

The best proof for this is seeing how Sefer Shoftim begins in comparison to how Sefer Yehoshua begins. We will see a number of parallels. (In general, nothing in Tanakh is written randomly. If we can find good textual parallels between 2 sefarim or perakim, the narrator (Shmuel who wrote Shoftim) is telling us to compare them to prove a point.).

Have the kids look at the 1st pasuk and contrast it with Yehoshua 1:1. In both sefarim, the previous leader has died and a replacement is neccesary. Who is the new leader in each of the stories??? There is no clear leader in shoftim which leads to big problems.

Yehoshua: Yehoshua succeeds Moshe

Shoftim: Bnei Israel succeed Yehoshua. There is no one clear successor!

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1 Now it came to pass after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, that the LORD spoke unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying:

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1 And it came to pass after the death of Joshua, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying: 'Who shall go up for us first against the Canaanites, to fight against them?'

Ask the chanichim if this is good or bad that there is no one successor to Yehoshua? It seems it would be bad, because now there is no clear national leader, a theme that leads to no leader being able to unify the people and have them conquer the rest of Eretz Israel. Its the community in charge. Imagine having no Rosh Mosh and the camp being run by Tzevet as a group. Why wouldnt this work? Or would it work?

Other parallels that show Shoftim as failing where sefer Yehoshua succeeds (try to get the chanichim to figure these out by comparing the beginnings of both sefarim:

  • In Yehoshua, Hashem approaches Yehoshua and tells him to conquer the land. In Shoftim, the people approach Hashem (with the urim vetumim) to try and conquer the land.

  • A Malach comes to Yehoshua and tells him how to attack Yericho and conquer land, while a Malach comes to the Jews in Shoftim and gives them mussar about not doing their job and conquering the land. The Malach in Shoftim comes from Gilgal which was the launching off point for Yehoshuas armies when conquering land, which isnt happening here.

Conclusion: Sefer Shoftim should have been the story of Am Israel continuing what Yehoshua had commanded them to take initiative to finish conquering and settling the land of Israel. Instead, we saw by comparing the beginnings of Sefer Yehoshua and Sefer Shoftim that there is no clear leader to take over after Yehoshua dies. The people do not work together and do not take initiatie to finish conquering the land, and instead leave many of the avodah zara worshipping nations in control of large parts of the land of Israel. In addition, Am Israel is working individually by shevet and not in unison as one group, and have not done their job of kicking the goyim out of the land. This generation seems to have no leadership, no unity and doesnt seem to be


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