Shoftim

The portion starts with instructions by Moshe to establish courts in every city to judge the people justly. The wording is somewhat strange. It says SHOFTIM VESHOTRIM TITTEN “LECHA” BECHOL SHE’ARECHA.(Deut. 16:18) The word “LECHA” is superfluous. It should have said “in all your cities” and that would have sufficed, without adding the words “for you”. Perhaps there is an added meaning here. The message is, before starting to judge others, you must first judge yourself. After you are sure that you have acted properly in your own dealings with others, then you may set up judges in different places to judge others. A Chassidic Rabbi once gave another explanation. He said that the Pasuk implies that you should not have two different standards in your method of judging, one for others and one for yourself. You should not be willing to overlook some of the things you do, yet criticize others for doing the same thing. You should not expect from others strict adherence to the law, yet for yourself bend the law a little to meet your needs. The same standard you use for others you should use for yourself and the reverse is true. What you think you may be permitted to do, you must consider that others may be permitted as well. If you look disparagingly on what your fellow man does, then it is obviously wrong for you to do as well.

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