In this Shabbat’s weekly Torah portion Shoftim Deuteronomy 16:18 – 21:9, Moses instructs the people of Israel to appoint judges and law enforcement officers in every city. “Justice, justice shall you pursue,” he commands them, and you must administer it without corruption or favoritism. Crimes must be meticulously investigated and evidence thoroughly examined—a minimum of two credible witnesses is required for conviction and punishment.
In every generation, says Moses, there will be those entrusted with the task of interpreting and applying the laws of the Torah. “According to the law that they will teach you, and the judgment they will instruct you, you shall do; you shall not turn away from the thing that they say to you, to the right nor to the left.”
In this week’s Haftara Prophets reading Isaiah 51:12 – 52:12, is the fourth of a series of seven “Haftarot of Consolation.” These seven haftarot commence on the Shabbat following Tisha b’Av and continue until Rosh Hashanah.
The haftorahs of the past two weeks open with Israel’s complaint that they have been abandoned by God. Israel is not content with consolations offered by the prophets — instead they demand that God alone comfort them. In response, this week’s haftorah begins with God’s response: “I, indeed I, will comfort you.”