Parshat Shoftim 5778: Possible Contrasts Between Judging With Justice and Pursuing Justice Regarding Law Enforcement and Judiciary

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Shoftim is sponsored by Dov and Bracha Moses of Ramat Beit Shemesh and dedicated for a Refuah Shleima for Rachel bat Chaya Perel and Hatslocha to all of their children and grand-children. To the Moses family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Shoftim 5778: Possible Contrasts Between Judging With Justice and Pursuing Justice Regarding Law Enforcement and Judiciary

by Moshe Burt

Once again, this year our Parshat HaShevua vort is penned under a heavy cloud, this time, of Hamas’ lethal rocket, fiery kite and drone terror attacks and infiltration attempts against Israel’s southern border towns, and against the background of Knesset debate and votes regarding legislation which, if passed into law, would mandate Israel’s deduction from transfers which it makes to the “PA” of monies equal to that paid by the “PA” to terrorists and their families.

Our Parshat Shoftim opens with the Torah requirement of appointment of judges, and officers of the court to enforce judicial decisions with righteous judgement. The third posuk of our parsha reads:

“Tzedek, Tzedek tierdof…” Righteousness, righteousness (also rendered Justice, Justice) you shall pursue that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord, your G’d gives you.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 16, posuk 20)

Such righteousness in judgement must not be prejudiced by bribes, gifts, appearance of, or financial position of either litigant.

But let’s return to our Parsha’s opening posuk:

“Judges and Officers shall you appoint in all of your cities — which Hashem… gives you — for your tribes…” (Translation rendered by The Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Devarim, Perek 16, posuk 18)

What about those “officers of the court”?

The Artscroll Stone Chumash (pge 1024) explains:

Officers of the court who… would circulate in the markets and streets to enforce standards of honesty and summon violators to the court for adjudication. (citing Rambam Hilchot Sanhedrin, and Ramban)

The Sapirstein Edition Chumash Sefer Devarim “The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary (page 182) renders Rashi:

“Officers” who impose authority over the people following the order of [the Judges]; with stick and with strap…

In short, these explanations indicate application of righteousness of judgement to police, law enforcement. And the paradigm posuk of our Parshat: “Tzedek, Tzedek tierdof (Justice, Justice) shall you pursue” would seem to apply to law enforcement to at least the same extent as to Judges and Judicary.

Rabbi Shmuel Goldin cites, from his summary of Parshat Shoftim, Moshe’s speech relating to Rabbinic authority as “seminal” in his sefer “Unlocking The Torah Text,” Sefer Devarim (page 167):

Moshe…. commands the nation to consult with the leaders of their day across the generations when facing situations of uncertainty. “You shall not deviate,” he insists, “from the word that they tell you, right or left.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 17, posuk 11)

Bearing the above in mind, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, in his Sefer “Torah Gems” provides a jaw-dropping commentary citing Derashot El Ami:. “Tzedek, Tzedek tierdof…”:

“Justice alone is not enough, because there are many types of justice, just as there are many kinds of truth. Every regime has it’s own justice. The Torah therefore stresses ‘Justice, justice you shall pursue…’, namely the justice of justice, where both the means and the end are just.” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Volume 3, Parsha Shoftim page 257)

Doesn’t that “Every regime has it’s own justice” characterize an Israeli media, ministerial, law enforcement, military and judiciary in lock-step and doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface regarding the “justice (sic)” of the current and successive regimes of Medinat Yisrael?

R’ Goldin, in his sefer “Unlocking The Torah Text,” discusses two phrases in Torah regarding “justice” and judgement (Sefer Devarim, page 171):

While the scholars of the Talmud do not derive an independent mitzva from the words “Tzedek, Tzedek tierdof,” they do view this phrase as potentially broadening Torah’s demand for justice…

In Sefer Vayikra, the Torah commands, “with justice shall you judge your fellow” (Sefer Vayikra Perek 19, posuk 15), while the text in Sefer Devarim demands, “Justice, Justice shall you pursue…” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 16, posuk 20) Perceiving seemingly contrasting requirements emerging from these verses, the Rabbis ask: In which cases does “judging with justice” suffice? And in which cases must we “pursue justice, justice” with extra vigor?

Answering their own question, the scholars explain that through the use of these variations, the text challenges judges to follow their own instincts. In straightforward situations, where the facts match the judges’ internal perceptions, “judging with justice” will suffice. When the judges suspect deceit, however, they must dig deeper, moving past the apparent facts before them, as they “pursue justice” with further force. A judge cannot fulfill his task in a pro forma fashion. He must always invest his full capacities as Hashem’s agent in the administration of the law.

In successive generations of governance in contemporary Medinat Yisrael, it would seem that suspected deceit, as discussed by R’ Goldin, could extend beyond individual parties and witnesses to a litigation, to the very Shotrim (Officers) themselves, in cases of secular law vs Torah law, for instance; the settling of areas of Eretz Yisrael or military protocol regarding dealing with murderous terrorists, and sometimes, to the Shoftim — the Judges, and not merely to secular judges.

The socialist, leftist agendized elites have their tentacles in every Israeli governmental, educational, media and economic institution — Top, bottom, “upside down… inside out and round and round.” So, in the current state of Israeli governance and “justice”, these “officers” indoctrinate, brainwash and intimidate against both Torah and the spirit of Jewish justice.

Have we allowed the “law” to evolve into being the “law” by agenda (read leftist agenda) only, with those indoctrinated and agendized toward the socialist, leftist line — “a state of all its people”, etc. being basically above the “law”? Have we allowed the “law” and biased law enforcement to persecute those who cleave to Eretz Yisrael?

Hmm, a regime controlled by agendized elitists who dominate the ministerial bureaucracies, the universities, the print and electronic media…. and whose socialist, leftist agendized elite — Israel’s swamp — have their tentacles in every Israeli governmental, educational, media and economic institution? Isn’t it about time that Torah Jews got themselves unified, on the same page and took back Israel?

Can it be that the subverted or seduced city (Ir HaNidachas), which serves as the basis for the final Mishne of Perek Cheilik of Gemora Tractate Sanhedrin, relates to this and successive regimes and has a direct connection to the absence of “Tzedek, Tzedek tierdof…”:

That connection appears to be between subversion of the governed and the application of judgement and law enforcement based on subverted, agendized law, rather than Torah law.

“Righteousness, righteousness you shall pursue that you may live and inherit the land.”

The bottom-line; An honest, morally clean, straight-forward, self-respecting Jewish government and legal system would not maneuver and agendize itself into being controlled by the nations, or by those who subvert within and who would seek after their own national legacy. Instead, Israel’s corrupt and immoral leaders, officers and judiciary subject and subordinate themselves and the nation to the follies their own subversion and that of others at our collective, dire physical and spiritual peril. Thus, while the penalties of the subverted city may not apply, it seems obvious that in faith-based governance, charges of treason against an agendized swamp of subversion may.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the twice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of four years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.