18. Judges and officers shall you appoint in all
your cities -- which Hashem, your God, gives you -- for your
tribes; and they shall judge the people with righteous
19. You shall not pervert judgment, you shall not
respect someone's presence, and you shall not accept a
bribe, for the bribe will blind the eyes of the wise and
make just words crooked:
20. Righteousness, righteousness shall you pursue,
so that you will live and possess the Land that Hashem, your
God, gives you:
first two psukim are clear.
Pasuk chav (verse 20) provides the insights to
understanding the entire picture.
Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch says the following with
regard to this pasuk:
As the highest unique goal, to be striven for purely
for itself, to which all other considerations have to
subordinated, the concept tzedek, "Right,
Justice," forming all private and public matters in
accordance with God's Torah is to be kept in the mind of the
whole nation. To
pursue this goal unceasingly with all devotion is Israel's
one task, with that it has done everything to secure its
physical and political existence.
Inasmuch as here the political security of the land
to be achieved by acknowledging and caring for Right and
Justice . . . even after possession of the Land has been
completed, - and the text is obviously speaking of such a
time -, the significant truth is thereby laid down that the
possession of the land comes into question every minute, and
it has to be taken into possession afresh every minute by
the Jewish State as a whole paying acknowledging tribute to
"Right and Justice," and making this realized in
the land. In
[the Talmudic Mesechta (Tractate) of] Sanhedrin 32,b, the
repetition of tzedek tzedek [the first two works in
this pasuk] in our verse is further explained that every judicial
activity even if it is not to make a decision but only to
arrange a compromise must be guided entirely by
in . . . compromise, to arrange an amicable agreement
between the contenting parties, which, according to
Sanhedrin 6,a, to attempt which is a mitzva in every civil
quarrel which is brought to court, the judge may not favour
one party more than the other.
are more subtle points continued in this explanation and the
bear mentioning. It
is pointed out that these dictates will be in force as a
part of possession of the Land, the State of Israel.
In other words, it seems as if there is a grave
responsibility on the part of the rabbis and judges in
Israel to make their decisions fair and just.
To do so helps maintain the healthy relationship
between Klal Yisrael and the Land.
To ignore this responsibility, to judge without
justice, jeopardizes and damages that relationship.
Indeed, this is a heavy responsibility to be borne by
the Rabbanut in Israel and by every Beit Din and Va'ad
elsewhere in the world.
Perhaps most interesting of all is that Rav Hirsch wrote his commentary in the 19th Century before there was any idea that in 1948 there would once again be a physical State of Israel.