These lectures on the Book of Judges (Sefer Shoftim) were delivered by Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein at the Wild Summer Program in Yeshivas Ohr Somayach in Jerusalem (August 2019). These lectures follow the Book of Judges based on traditional rabbinic sources.
Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein is the author of God versus Gods: Judaism in the Age of Idolatry (Mosaica Press, 2018). He studied for over a decade at such premier institutes as Yeshiva Gedolah of Los Angeles, Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem, and Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, NJ. He currently lives in Beitar Illit, Israel where he continues to deliver lectures and publish articles in rabbinic and academic journals. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Episode 10 - An Epilogue: The Book of Judges in Retrospect
In this episode, we accentuate the tragedy of Samson by highlighting his potential role as a Messiah/King of the Jewish People and the partnership between his tribe of Dan and the tribe of Judah (Yehudah).
We then continue with a brief introduction to the two judges from the Book of Samuel: Eli the Kohen and Shmuel the Prophet.
Afterwards, we look back at all the Shoftim and seek out each one's redeeming qualities and summarize our findings regarding their tribal affiliations. We also return to the idea of judges in general and contrasted the role of the judges with that of the kings (and, in doing so, offered Pentateuchal support from the Torah as to the very concept of judges).
Finally, we visit the blessings that Jacob (Yaakov) gave to his children on his deathbed and saw how those blessings offer hints to the various judges who were destined to descend from those sons and the tribes they progenated.
Episode 9 - Samson the Strong: Kryptonite and Delilah
In this episode, we discuss Samson consorting with a prostitute in Gaza, and latter entering a relationship with his lover Delilah. The latter, of course, proved to be the bane of his tragic downfall.
Episode 8 - Manoah's Angel and Samson's Struggle
In this episode, we discuss the story of an angel informing Manoah and his wife that they will bear a son who will be a Nazirite and save the Jews from the Phillistines. That son, of course, was Samson, who valiantly fought the Phillistines, but also married a Phillistine woman from Timna.
Episode 7 - The Identity and Tribe of Ibzan
In this episode, we discuss the judge Ibzan (Ivtzan) whom the Talmud identifies as Boaz (from the Book of Ruth). We analyze this assertion and test its viability from different angels, ultimately suggesting that other elements of Rabbinic Tradition do not agree with this identification.
Afterwards, we briefly speak about Elon the Zebulunite and Abdon (Avdon) ben Hillel the Pirathonite.
This lecture ends with an introduction to the Phillistines' role in subjugating the Jews during the Period of Judges.
Episode 6 - Jephtah the Gileadite: The Little Judge Who Could
In this episode, we discuss the story of Jephtah (Yiftach), the son of a Zonah, who delivered the Jews from the Ammonites, possibly sacrificed his daughter at the altar, and waged a civil war against the Tribe of Ephraim. Despite all of this, Jephtah is equated to Shmuel HaNavi -- one of the greatest prophets to ever live.
Episode 5 - The Brutal Judge, the Scholar Judge, and the Idolatrous Judge
In this episode, we continue our discussion of Gideon/Jerubaal's military successes and the proposal which offered Gideon the chance to become the first King of the Jews.
We then discuss Gideon's son Abimelech who unjustly tried to take the role offered to his father, and ended up massacring the people of Schechem.
Afterwards, we discuss the judge Tola son of Puah focusing on different ideas derived from his name and his associated with the Tribe of Issachar.
Finally, we discuss Jair the Gileadite and the Hellenistic Jewish tradition that brands him an idolater.