Monday, June 15, 2015

Officers of the Law

The Bible in Deuteronomy states, “Shoftim v’shotrim, Judges and “shotrim” you shall appoint in your cities.” Most English versions of the Torah translate the word shotrim as “officers,” and numerous commentators explain this term to refer to those who were responsible for enforcing the rulings of the judges. These shotrim were not police officers who caught people and brought them to jail, as we think of the term today, because jail is not one of the penal practices listed in the Torah. (Although it is interesting to note that the Torah does refer to jail time in Genesis 39-40, when Joseph is imprisoned for two years.)

While the Torah system of law and order may not include the modern concept of police officers, the Torah promotes a deep respect for those who work to ensure “law and order.” These officers of the law are admonished throughout the written and oral law to pursue justice and are given a great deal of guidance on how to function.

Today is marked as a National Day of Prayer for Law Enforcement Officers on numerous holiday-list websites. Law enforcement officers of every era are tasked with great responsibilities. While all people naturally desire justice in life, the men and women who work in law enforcement accept upon themselves a duty to fight for justice each day.

On this day of prayer for them, Jewish Treats salutes all those who stand up and often risk their lives for a just society.

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