Shoftim: The King of Israel kept his Torah in a surprising place!
If you were blessed to have a Sefer Torah, which room in your house would you keep it in?
In Parshat Shoftim (Devarim 17:18), the Torah gives us a commandment relating to the king.
“Vehaya keshivto al kisei mamlachto,” – “And it shall come to pass when he sits on his throne and rules the people,”
“Vechatav lo et mishne hatorah hazot al sefer.” – “He must write two Sifrei Torah.”
The Torah goes on to say,
“Vekaravo kol yemei chayav,” – “And he must read from the Sefer Torah on every day of his life.”
The Chatam Sofer explains that from here we learn that the king would need to consult with the Sefer Torah each and every day to guarantee that Torah law would guide and inspire him while he ruled the people. Now Rashi tells us what the king did with the two Sifrei Torah: he writes that one of them was to accompany him wherever he would go and the other he was to keep in his treasury, where all his money and his jewellery was. We see that the Torah resided in that part of the palace which stood for materialism in order to guarantee that when the king would consult with the Torah on every day of his reign, spirituality would triumph over materialism and ultimately the word of Hashem would guide the king in all ways.
This was the way in which Joseph ruled Egypt as is described to us in the book of Bereishit. The Torah tells us how, immediately after revealing his true identity to his brothers, Joseph charged them with the responsibility of going back to Canaan to tell their father Yaakov that Joseph had said in Bereishit 45:9,
“Samani Elokim lehaadon lekol Mitzrayim.” – “God has made me the lord over all Egypt.”
The Kotzker Rebbe beautifully interprets it a different way: Samani Elokim is not ‘God has made me’ but rather ‘I have made God’ – I have made God to be ‘adon lechol Mitzrayim,’ the Lord over all Egypt, meaning that in every decision that Joseph took, for every policy that he made for Egypt he was inspired by one single consideration – what would Hashem want me to do? In this way, he guaranteed that it was actually Hashem who was ruling Egypt.
Just like the ancient kings of Israel, let us guarantee that in every decision we take, in all the policies we have in our homes and in our workplaces, we will be guided and inspired by what Hashem wants us to do. In addition, bearing in mind where the Sefer Torah was kept in the king’s palace, let’s always ensure that our ruchaniut, our spirituality, will be the priority of our lives.