D’varim July 25, 2015 /9 Av, 5775

This week’s parasha (Torah portion) contains procedures for judges. This is one of several places in the Torah where such laws are given. In all of them, the fundamental message is the same: to be scrupulously fair in administering justice. Commentators use the wording in this text to ferret out the specifics. For example, the text says that the judge should “(h)ear the causes between” people. (Deut.1: 16) One commentator focuses on the word “between,” deducing that both parties must be in the room at the same time for the hearing to be fair. (Talmud Sanhedrin 7b) Another commentator zeroes in on the grammatical form of the word “hear,” stating that this particular form implies that the judge must pay attention equitably, both visually and aurally, to both parties. (Or HaChayim) Both commentators are seeking to make as clear as possible how a judge must act in order to “judge righteously.” (Dec 1:16)