Two-Line Torah: Shoftim 5776–Sacrifice and Leadership
Parashat Shoftim has been called by many commentators the constitution of the Jewish people. Like the American constitution, a large part of the parasha addresses the structure of government and focuses on the behavior of communal leaders.
The priests, one group of leaders mentioned in the parasha, were not allowed to own land. They sacrificed wealth in order to serve the community.
This is in sharp distinction to the Egyptian priests mentioned at the end of Genesis, whom Joseph allows to keep their land and wealth.
Hillel as an organization has empowered and supported thousands of emerging adults to become Jewish communal leaders, often times at a great sacrifice of these students’ time and energy. It is these student leaders and the sacrifices they make that keep the Jewish people alive and give them life, like the priests of old.
Rabbi Dan Epstein is Senior Jewish Educator at the George Washington University Hillel.