Dvar Torah Parshat Yitro 2009 5769 דבר תורה פרשת יתרו

Yitro advises Moshe on establishing a court system. He suggests a structure of lower courts and upper courts. He ends by saying: KOL HADAVAR HAGADOL YAVI’U ELECHA, “…every major matter they shall bring to you…”. (Ex/ 18,22) Moshe accepted the plan and instituted it among the people with one seemingly slight change. The various judges were appointed and then we are told they judged the people and ET DAVAR HAKASHEH HEVI’UN EL MOSHE, “…the difficult matter they brought to Moshe…” (18,26) Why the change from HADAVAR HAGADOL, major matter to DAVAR HAKASHEH, difficult matter?

The truth is that this is not a “seemingly slight” change but a major conceptual change. Yitro in suggesting the court system followed his thinking which was that matters that dealt with big sums, HADAVAR HAGADOL, should be brought to Moshe. The Jewish judicial system, however, holds that all matters, great or small, are to be treated with equal importance. The Halacha says that “a case of a Pruta or penny is as important as a case of a hundred Prutot or a hundred pennies”.

The amount of money in litigation does not matter. Every competent judge could deal with it. The difficult cases that were complicated and not easily solved were to be brought to Moshe.


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