Pearls of Rashi – Parshas Shoftim

In this week’s Torah portion, we are commanded to establish judges and officers in all of the cities of the land which we are about to enter (Israel). The Torah tells us that[1] “You shall set up judges and law enforcement officials for yourself in all your cities that the Hashem is giving you for your tribes. They shall judge the people with righteous judgment.” What is the difference between Judges (שופטים) and officers (שוטרים)? Rashi explains that judges are those “who decide the verdict.” Officers are those “who chastise the people in compliance with their order. They strike and bind with rods and straps until the guilty party accepts the verdict.” In modern parlance “officers” would be police.

The prophet Yeshayahu (Isaiah) tells of a prophecy which will take place in the days of Moshiach. He writes that[2] “I will restore your judges as at first and your counsellors as in the beginning. Afterwards you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City.” In other words, just as Hashem commands us to establish judges at all of the gates of the Holy Land, so too will we have judges at the time of the future redemption. However, something seems to be missing. We were commanded to have “police” to enforce the judge’s verdicts. This is missing from Yeshayahu’s prophecy. His prophecy only added “counsellors” to the judges. Why will officers be missing from the future redemption?

The explanation is quite simple based on Rashi’s explanation of our verse. The judges will decide the verdict. However, there will be instances that the people will not wish to accept the judges’ ruling. That is why we will still need officers. Even after entering Israel we will still have a “Yetzer Hora – an Evil Inclination.”

However, at the time of the future Redemption the Yetzer Hora will be gone. The prophet Zechariah tells us that[3] “… also the (false) prophets and the spirit of contamination I will remove from the earth.” With no Evil Inclination, we will have no need for one to enforce Hashem’s law. All that we will need is an advisor to teach us how important it to follow the proper path. We can certainly bring the redemption closer by behaving now as if we are already living in the time of redemption!

Wishing one and all inscribed and sealed for a good year in all respects. May we all have a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Sefer Hasichos 5751 Volume 2, 780-795

Mrs. Brocha bas Reb Tzvi Nechemiah Hacohen O.B.M. Cohen
Passed away on 8 Shevat, 5778
May Her Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
מרת ברכה בת ר’ צבי נחמי’ הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטרה ביום ח ‘שבט, ה’תשע”ח
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
נדפס ע”י בני משפחתה שיחיו

[1]. Our Parshah, Devorim 16:18.

[2]. Yeshayahu 1:26.

[3]. Zechariah 13:2.

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