Author Archives: Talia Johnson

Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue: Dvar on Shoftim 5775

This Dvar was given by Talia Johnson at the Interfaith Pride Shabbat on August 21, 2015. It was published on her website and is posted here with permission.

In my Dvar, or teaching, for this year’s Interfaith Pride Shabbat I look at the commandment to pursue justice and the questions and challenges it raises for those of us in LGBTTQ* / Queer spaces.

This week’s parshat, or Torah reading, Shoftim, is the 48th weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the fifth in the book of Deuteronomy. It constitutes Deuteronomy 16:18–21:9. Overall this parshat talks about justice and what to do when people break the law, the establishment of cities of refuge, what sort of witnesses are acceptable, how many witnesses, and, perhaps most importantly, the command to pursue justice. “Justice, justice you shall pursue”, (Deut 16:20). But what does this mean, particularly for those of us who fall under the LGBT / Queer umbrellas? Justice can take many forms, and often justice does not result in equality or equity. I am going to look at a few aspects of justice that are discussed in this parshat. Who is eligible to not participate in the army when going to battle, cities of refuge, bearing false witness, and to judge fairly and not take bribes. Continue reading