There’s always a spiritual meaning! “Appoint yourselves judges and officers in your gates” teaches the Torah in last week’s Shoftim. Typically understood as the establishment of a judicial system, Hasidic thinkers such as the Sefat Emet teach us to picture these gates, not as gates to a city, but as a gate to our soul. The judges, not as officials of the court system, but agents of conscience who help us judge the nourishment that enters and the mitzvot that depart from those gates.
May we, in this month of Elul, clear the pathways to our gates, that we may carefully judge for our own souls.
L’shanah tovah–Your RS clergy