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Shoftim

Moshe tells the Beney Yisrael to appoint judges and officers in their cities. A bribe of even an insignificant sum is forbidden. Trees are not to be planted near HaShem's altar as was the way of idolaters. Blemishes in animals designated for offerings and other points of disqualification are listed. The Great Sanhedrin is to make binding decisions on new situations according to Torah criteria to prevent the fragmentation of the Torah. A very learned scholar who refuses to accept the Halachic decisions of the Sanhedrin incurs the death penalty. A Jewish king may only have possessions and symbols of power commensurate with the honour of his office, but not for self-aggrandizement. He is to write for himself two Sifrey Torah, one to be kept with him wherever he goes, so that he doesn't become haughty. Neither the Kohanim nor the Levites are to inherit land in the Land of Israel, rather they are to be supported by the community, by a system of tithes. All divination is prohibited. HaShem promises the Jewish People that He will send them prophets to guide them, and Moshe explains how a genuine prophet may be distinguished from a false one. Cities of refuge are to be provided for someone who kills accidentally, in order to escape the blood-avenger from the family of the deceased. However, someone who kills with malice is to be handed over to the blood-avenger who may exact his revenge. Moshe cautions the Beney Yisrael not to move boundary markers to increase their property. Two witnesses who conspire to 'frame' a third are to be punished with that same punishment that they conspired to bring upon the innocent party. A Kohen is to be anointed specifically for when Israel goes to war, to instill trust in HaShem. Amongst those who are disqualified from going to war is anyone who has built a new house, but not lived in it yet, or anyone who is fearful or fainthearted. An enemy must be given chance to make peace, but if they refuse, all the males are to be killed. Fruit trees are to be preserved and not cut down during the siege. If a corpse is found between cities, the elders of the nearest city must take a heifer, slaughter it, and wash their hands over it, saying that they are not guilty of the death.


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