One thing about living in Johannesburg, is that we all know about security. High walls, electric fences and armed response have all become part of “normal” Joburg life.
What’s interesting is that, centuries ago, ancient Jewish towns had similar security systems in place. Even more interesting is that these safety measures were mandatory. “Shoftim ve’Shotrim”, the Torah instructs us to place judges and policeman at all “your” gates, meaning those of every Jewish city.
On closer inspection, though, it turns out that regular security is the easy part. “Your gates” also refers to the entry points to a human being- your eyes, ears and mouth.
It’s relatively easy to identify who shouldn’t enter your property- and to keep them out. It’s a real challenge to decide what doesn’t belong in your head- and even more challenging to keep it out.
This is why it’s no accident that we read this parsha just as the month of Elul begins. Elul is a time for a little more spiritual caution than usual. Rosh Hashana is just around the corner and it’s time to get into gear.
For the next 30 days, we should be vigilant about the sort of things we let ourselves see (not every TV show carries the Beth Din stamp), hear (avoid “did-you-hear” stories) and eat (30 days dedication to kashrut can’t hurt).
I sincerely believe that when we enter Rosh Hashanah more spiritually secure than usual, Hashem will gladly bless us with personal security for the coming year.