Torah Fueled by Our Questions

Rabbi Aviva Richman

Parashat Shoftim

Parashat Shoftim deals with the structures and nature of leadership. Early in the parashah, one passage explains that someone who has a hard question should go to the centralized leadership to ask, and then must obey the answer, on penalty of death. The point seems to be about reinforcing the power and authority of central religious leadership. But in the arc of ongoing interpretation, these verses become a provocative jumping off point to reflect on the nature of the encounter between an individual’s religious question and religious experts.  It becomes possible to find in them a voice for the importance of asking our questions, not primarily to ensure obedience but because our questions have an important role to play in the unfolding of Torah itself. (5782)