Parshat Mishpatim 5781: The Mandate for Truth in Judgement

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parsha Mishpatim is being sponsored by Baruch and Yaffa Swinkin and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated lilui nishmas for Baruch’s grandfather Micha’el ben Yaakov. To the Swinkin 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 Mishpatim 5781: The Mandate for Truth in Judgement

by Moshe Burt

An excerpt from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s summary of Parshat Yithro in his sefer “Unlocking the Torah Text” on Sefer Shemot (page 125) seems a fitting segue to discussing our Parshat Hashavua Mishpatim:

After a mutually respectful reunion with his son-in-law and a celebratory meal including Aaron and the elders, Yithro counsels Moshe concerning the governance of the people. Moshe accepts his father-in-law’s suggestions….

Also fitting in introducing Parshat Mishpatim, The Sapirstein Edition: “The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary” renders to English Sefer Shemot, Parshat Yithro (Perek 18, posukim 13-14, 17, 19-20″, 21- 24):

“It was on the next day that Moshe sat to judge the people, and the people stood by Moshe from the morning until the evening. The father-in-law of Moshe saw everything that he [Moshe] was doing to the people, and he said, ‘What is this thing that you do to the people? Why do you sit all alone with all the people standing by you from morning to evening?'”

[Yithro said to Moshe]… “The thing that you do is not good…. Now heed my voice, I shall advise you, and may Hashem be with you: You be for the people opposite Hashem, and you convey the matters to Hashem. You… caution them regarding the decrees and the teachings, and you… make known to them the path in which they should go and the deeds that they should do.”

“…You shall see from among the entire people, men of means, G’d-fearing people, men of truth, people who despise money, and you shall appoint them leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds. leaders of fifties and leaders of tens. They shall judge the people at all times, and they shall bring every major matter to you, and every minor matter they shall judge, and it will ease from upon you, and they shall bear with you. If you do this thing — and Hashem will command you — then you will be able to endure, and this entire people, as well shall arrive at its destination in peace.”

“Moshe heeded the voice of his father-in-law, and did everything that he [Yithro] had said.”

Rabbi Goldin provides context regarding two general directives which Torah lists in our Parshat (“Unlocking the Torah Text” on Sefer Shemot (page 192):

The Torah issues two general directives concerning the avoidance of falsehood.

Here in Parshat Mishpatim, the text states, “Distance yourself from a false matter [or: a false word].” (Rabbi Goldin citing Sefer Shemot, Perek 23, posuk 7)

In Parshat Kedoshim, in Sefer Vayikra, … the Torah simply proclaims, “And you shuld not deal falsely with one another. (Rabbi Goldin citing Sefer Vayikra, Perel 19, posuk 11)

In this vort, we will deal only with avoidance of a false matter as it relates primarily to matters of judicial judgement, in line with the thrust of Yithro’s advice to Moshe Rabbeinu regarding governance.

Rabbi Goldin explains (ibid, pages 192-193):

Based upon textual content, the Talmud indicates that the commandment “Distance yourself from a false matter,” focuses on primarily on matters of jurisprudence. The two sentences that surround this pronouncement in the text and, more importantly, the other half of the sentence itself, are all clearly directed towards those involved in courtroom proceedings.

To interrupt Rabbi Goldin’s explanation, this author now cites The Sapirstein Edition: “The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary” rendering to English Sefer Shemot, Perek 23, posukim 6-8 to provide clarity regarding Rabbi Goldin’s explanation:

“You shall not pervert the judgement of your destitute person in his dispute. Distance yourself from a false word; do not kill one who is innocent or one who is righteous, for I shall not exonerate a wicked person. You shall not take a bribe, for the bribe will blind those who can see and will make righteous words crooked.”

Rabbi Goldin continues (ibid, page 194-195):

From a halachic perspective, settlement and compromise are possible, even desirable, before the wheels of justice have turned. In the determination of the law, however, truth — and only the truth — becomes our goal. (Rabbi Goldin citing Talmud Bavli Sanhedrin 6b, Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Sanhedrin 22:4)

So great, in fact, is the need for truth in judgement, say the Rabbis, that any possibility of seeming or potential impropriety must be avoided at all costs. The Torah thus states, “Distance yourself from a false matter.” Avoid any act of jurisprudence which might lead to or give the appearance of falsehood.

…Rabbinic injunctions underscore halacha’s deep commitment to the integrity of the judicial process. The legal system is too precious to be endangered through artificial maneuvering, no matter what the reason or rationale. Under any and all circumstances, in and surrounding the courtroom, we must “Distance [ourselves] from a false matter.”

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 thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now free of his parole and restrictions and that he and his ill wife Esther Yocheved bat Rayzl Bracha are finally home in Eretz Yisrael. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of five and a half 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. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese corona virus pandemic and all like viruses. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei 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!!!

Chodesh Tov and 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.