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Dvar Torah - Shoftim

One of the most vexing issues we currently face is the question of authority. Who should we believe? Who should we listen to? Where does our information come from, and what is the quality of that source? None of these are new questions. Although they seem far more pressing in the age of Google, Wikipedia, AI and the general glut of information we are experiencing, they have been around for millennia.

The Torah deals with precisely this question this week. The Torah commands that we obey instinctually the commands of a true prophet and that we reject absolutely the directives of a false one. However, how are we to tell them apart? The Torah gives a seemingly simple test; do the prophet's words come true in the future? If they do, he's real.

This test is more complex than it seems. To evaluate the truth of a prophet's predictions, we must first be able to assess reality accurately. However, the spread of misinformation over the last few years has shown us that it can be more challenging than it sounds. Nevertheless, the Torah commands us to try, and it is not an excuse to say we were misinformed.

Knowing what is happening or what to do can be difficult in an imperfect world with incomplete information. The Torah teaches us this week that collecting and assessing information is moral and incumbent upon us so that we can ultimately do the right thing. As such, we all have to make sure that we spend the time and effort we need to learn what we need to act correctly.

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