Parashat Shoftim starts with some very big and important ideas. The establishment of judges and magistrates in Israel and the proper way to uphold justice are outlined in the first two pesukim, followed by the command, "Tzedek tzedek tirdof... (Righteousness righteousness shall you pursue)." This is a topic that I am very passionate about and lectured on at various universities. However, it is not a concept easily transmitted to a child. I skipped explaining it to the girls, along with the prohibition of planting idolatrous trees(?!?).
We skipped to a topic that all children love, royalty! The second aliyah begins by explaining the laws relating to establishing a king in Israel.
1) He must be Jewish.
"Of course he must be Jewish. Only Jewish people should be in Israel," Cohava replied. I decided not to dispute the point.
2) He cannot have too many horses.
"Four is not too many," Gabi clarified.
3) He cannot have too many wives.
I thought the girls would immediately say that you can only have one wife, but Cohava believes otherwise.
"He can have three wives and then no more," she said.
"But more wives mean more queens! I want to marry a king and be a queen!" Gabi explained, having a stronger grasp on the monarchy than I realized.
4) He cannot try to get too much money.
"Because he must give it all to tzedakah," Gabi clarified.
5) He must write two sifrei Torah.
I asked them why the king needed two.
"In case he loses one he had a spare," Cohava replied. "But if I were the king I would make 172 or maybe a google so I could give one to everyone is Israel."
"I want two Torahs!" Gabi exclaimed. "And they need a keter and cover and a necklace and a yad and they will be soft and beautiful."
This inspired Cohava. "The king needs one Torah that lies down and one that stands up! He needed an Asheknazi one and a Sephardic Torah!"
"I think that is a lovely idea! And although you aren't kings, you helped write the new Ashkenazi Torah at Yavneh. Sassoon Yehuda is working on writing a new Sephardi sefer Torah and you will help with that!" I said.
"And then I can be king!" Gabi joked.
"But the king really really wrote it, like the sofer, right?" Cohava wondered.
"Yes and so can you," I told her. And thus began this week's parasha project.
We got the ink (okay not actual kosher ink, but some fountain pen ink) and big sheets of paper (but not klaf) and some ridiculous tiny colored feathers.
I was impressed with their writing. Cohava is very good at letter formation from her practice at school. Gabi was very keen to try lots of different letters.
And Ruti hid under the table, supervising.
The papers are hiding in a safe place for now. Before Simchat Torah we will make the proper casings for our Torahs (but will they be Sephardi or Ashkenazi?).