Parasha: Our Roles as Judges

Thoughts for Parshat Shoftim

by Mrs. Rivkah Erentrau

Although a judge reflects a very high position, which draws an attitude of deep fear and exceptional respect, yet we on a personal level, are indeed, the person who is obligated to fulfill this sophisticated task.

Our role as being ‘judges’ is our continuous involvement with ultimate responsibility to make careful and cautious moves, so we don’t hurt the innocent and thereby not let the violator come across as the winner, Chas Veshalom.

This duty requires high qualified attributes such as obtaining a wide and deep glance to analyze a situation from all its aspects and conclude with the consequences (which briefly stem from the analysis) which we decide to use as we are searching to solve issues in a complex environment.

Is it the source of our inner strength which motivates our determination for justice or is it our wish and desire to implement correctness and honesty around us, which grants us (with effectiveness) where we place things in order and control?

It prompts our attribute of גבורה (strictness) to decrease all the confusing, overwhelming thoughts and ideas on how to react to a particular stage and especially when we involve ourselves as caring, loving and concerned parents.

Even when we play the role of a teacher, a relative, a friend or just of a stranger when we judge a specific situation (in our surroundings), we then doubt and debate what direction we should use.

We wonder whether מדת החסד (being lenient) or perhaps גבורה (strict) shall dominant? Since each in its own way, may capture one’s personality trait. We are therefore inquired to use a third-party negotiator, our דעת, who is more an objective analysis which decides how to compromise and connect the two opposite approaches.

A judge who is בר דעת is not searching to punish. Instead, he moves towards a direction of awakening a regret sensation and confession for one’s investing numerous energies into a negative cause.

Such a move is much appreciated by this judge and he welcomes this repentant move as if the violation never existed.

The power of our דעת may harmonize גבורה into חסד meaning, converting the stringent, stern approach into a softer, sweeter and upgrading one.

Are we so gifted to own the qualities of ability to uplift our surroundings and not, heaven forbid, be dragged into a harsh and very stern outlet or perhaps we need judges (to lead us) and guards (to watch over us), because of a weak inner discipline and self-capturing?

Does it ever occur to us that occasionally, someone’s qualities attract us, either his reputation or family attribution, we then seem to treat him in a very soft, lenient and gentle manner, although his case needs a harsh approach?

Is that what שוחד /bribe is all about?

Our sages explain that the acronym of the word שוחד = שהוא חד. This means it is sharp and causes roughness and toughness to our clear and gentle sensations.

An objective process by one’s system leads to feeling in the heart that is based on one’s חכמה and בינה.

חכמה is the brief thought which strikes in one’s mind as a blinking star. It appears in the form of 32 narrow paths which are indeed long and lead into a far distance.

These glimpses did not yet develop into a practical idea. But they are in the process to pass and descend through the 49 wide gates of בינה (analysis) where these short points stretch to a wide and deep definite content.

When one ‘falls in a trap’, into the obstacle of ‘bribing’ his system, his appropriate view is then blocked and twisted and false judgments will lead to the cause evil and fraud factors to attain the upper hand.

But when one reflects self-control by restoring his internal ‘judges’ and ‘guards’ at his seven (7) gates, through which he comes in contact with the world around him, he then rejects and destroys this negative power.

His seven organs are the two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and his mouth reflect the gates where all sorts of effects may penetrate and occupy his mind and heart.

This dangerous stage is more difficult than dealing with harmful deeds. Since the source of the עולם המחשבה (world thought) is higher and more spiritual than the עולם המעשה (world of deed), this can eventually lead to connect with טומאה (becoming impure).

The power and level of thoughts over actions is similar to the advantage of the smelling sense (spiritual) over the tasting (physical, as deed) sense.

Taste is completed after one is already chewing the food. Smell surrounds the environment and does not disappear so quickly.

One’s judgmental skills are the שופטים, one who decides what is the wrong stimulation he needs to block and not allow them passage through his ‘gates’.

He also appoints שוטרים (guards) to prevent this violation from practically approaching him.

He is then considered as one who participates in the project of the creation and he assures that the world around him is clean of corruption and they will not even dare approach him. Instead, his effect brings them to repent and join the innocents who do enjoy the breath of freedom.

This is the שופט and the שוטר, the תורה refers to.

(ע”פ דרושי הצמח צדק: אור התורה דברים ח”ב פרשת שופטים וספר הליקוטים ערך משפט)

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