Dvar Torah Parshat Shoftim 5774 2014

We are given a decree: שֹׁפְטִים וְשֹׁטְרִים תִּתֶּן־לְךָ בְּכָל־שְׁעָרֶיךָ, “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your cities…”. (Deut. 16,18) The prophet Yeshayahu foretells: וְאָשִׁיבָה שֹׁפְטַיִךְ כְּבָרִאשֹׁנָה וְיֹעֲצַיִךְ כְּבַתְּחִלָּה, “And I will restore
Your judges as at first, and your counselors as at the beginning, afterwards you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.” (Is. 1,26) It is because of this prophecy that Jews pray three times daily in the weekday Amida: השיבה שופטינו כבראשונה ויועצינו כבתחילה, “Restore our judges as in earliest times and our counselors as at first.”

What the prophet forecasts for us and what we pray for is that the judges and counselors will return to judge according to the rules of the Torah. This implies the principles of Hashem laid down for us by Moshe and interpreted by Chazal, our Rabbis of old.

When this will become a reality then Jerusalem and all cities that follow these precepts will be known as the cities of righteousness and faithful cities. When courts and judges decide the law based on what they think it should be and not what is called for by the commandments or the established principles, there cannot be true justice and morality.


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