Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Shoftim

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In this week’s Parshah, the Torah commands to establish judges and officers in all of the cities of the land that 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” are the police.

The prophet Yeshayahu (Isaiah) tells of a prophecy that will take place in the days of Moshiach. He writes that[2] “I will restore your judges as at first and your counselors as in the beginning. Afterward, 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. The Torah commanded us to have “police” to enforce the judge’s verdicts. This part of the command is missing from Yeshayahu’s prophecy. His prophecy only added “counselors” to the judges. Why will there be no officers in the ultimate Redemption?

The explanation is quite simple, based on Rashi’s interpretation of our verse. The judges will decide the verdict. However, there will be instances that people will not wish to accept the judges’ ruling. That is why we will still need officers. Even after entering Israel, we will yet 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 not need for one to enforce Hashem’s law. All that we will need is an advisor to teach us how important it is 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!

I wish one and all a good Shabbos. May we all be inscribed and sealed for a good year in all respects.

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Sefer Hasichos 5751 Volume 2, 780-795

מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס

נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס

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

[2]. Yeshayahu 1:26.

[3]. Zechariah 13:2.

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