Parshat Shophtim (Judges)

B”H

Devarim 16.18 “You shall set up judges and law enforcement officials for yourself in all your cities that the L-RD, your G-D, is giving you, for your tribes, and they shall judge the people [with] righteous judgment.”

17.8 “If a matter eludes you in judgment, between blood and blood, between judgment and judgment, or between lesion and lesion, words of dispute in your cities, then you shall rise and go up to the place the L-RD, your G-D, chooses. 17.9 And you shall come to the Levitic kohanim and to the judge who will be in those days, and you shall inquire, and they will tell you the words of judgment. 17.10 And you shall do according to the word they tell you, from the place the L-RD will choose, and you shall observe to do according to all they instruct you.”

Devarim 17.11 “According to the law they instruct you and according to the judgment they say to you, you shall do; you shall not divert from the word they tell you, either right or left.”

What does this mean ‘ either right or left ? ‘ יָמִ֥ין וּשְׂמֹֽאל

RASHI says, either right or left,: Even if this judge tells you that right is left, and that left is right. How much more so, if he tells you that right is right, and left is left!- [Sifrei]

Avinu Avraham said, (B’rashith 13.9) “Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me; if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou take the right hand, then I will go to the left.’ “

Eliezer, Avinu Avraham’s Servant said, (B’rashith 24.49) “And now if ye will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, tell me; that I may turn to the right hand, or to the left.’ ”

Sometimes the right or left can mean a geographical place, a physical separation or metaphorically refer to deviation (from the straight, correct, peaceful path).

Rashi to 17.8 If a matter eludes you [in judgment]: Heb. כִּי יִפָּלֵא. [The term] הַפְלְאָה always denotes detachment and separation; [here it means] that the matter is detached and hidden from you.

On the other hand, right or left  may refer to longevity, riches & honor; as it says:

Mishley (Proverbs) 3.16 “Length of days is in her right hand; In her left hand are riches and honour.”

Even if they (the Minim) bribe you with words of eternal life or tell you [turn to the right] “believe in Yeshki and be saved” [i.e. go after eternal life; to wit, have eternal life – that is have “Length of days”] do not divert from the word of the Judge; or if they offer you riches and honor, do not turn to the left … Be immovable like the Altar (that is, be like [17.10] “the place the L-RD will choose”) be firm, solid like a rock, resolute “to do according to the judgment they (the Judge and the Levitical Priest) tell you!” (even if it does not seem acceptable in your eyes [understanding]; RASHI: that is, if they (the Judge and the Levitical Priest) tell you [what seems to be] ‘right is left or left is right’ do not deviate from the[ir] judgment….) One must say, “I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left.”

(Mishley 3.5 Trust in the L-RD with all your heart, and lean not on your own under – standing; 6 in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the L-RD and turn away from evil.” Yeshiyahu (Isaiah) 1.26-27 “And I will restore thy judges as at the first, And thy counsellors as at the beginning; Afterward thou shalt be called The city of righteousness, The faithful city. Zion shall be redeemed with justice, And they that return of her with righteousness.”)

Devarim 17.10 “And you shall do according to the word they tell you, from the place the L-RD will choose, and you shall observe to do according to all they instruct you.”

17.11 from the word (haDavar הַדָּבָר֙ )

17.10 according to the word (haDavar הַדָּבָר֙ )

the word haDavar הַדָּבָר֙ (here is synonymous with Torah [Teaching or Enlightenment] 17.11) is expressed in the singular to emphasize the unity of judgment between the Levitical Priest and the Judge “that shall be in those days” (where the L-RD shall choose to place His Name 12.5). Shmoth 20.20 “An altar of Adamah thou shalt make unto Me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt-offerings, and thy peace-offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be mentioned I will come unto thee and bless thee.”

Adamah – the place of Adam’s creation and of sacrifice – This passuk (Shmoth 20.20) connects “the place of Adam’s creation, (B’rashith – Genesis 2.7, 3.19) with the Place which HaShem chose….” (Devarim – Deuteronomy 12.5, 1 Chronicles 21.22-22.1, Note 26: “He answered him from heaven by fire” and 22.1: Then David said: ‘This is the house of the L-RD G-D, and this is the altar of burnt-offering for Israel.’)

17.9 “And you shall come to the Levitic kohanim and to the judge who will be in those days, and you shall inquire, and they will tell you the words of judgment haMishpat. ”

אֵ֖ת דְּבַ֥ר הַמִּשְׁפָּֽט “the words of the judgment” 17.9 haMishpat (again, expressed in the singular) the straight, peaceful path, (B’rashith 13.9, 24.49) the path a man should follow. (Pirke Avoth 2.1 “Rabbi [Judah HaNassi] would say: ‘Which is the right path for man to choose for himself? Whatever is harmonious for the one who does it, and harmonious for mankind.’ “)

for the judgement is G-D’s

Devarim 1.17 “Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; ye shall hear the small and the great alike; ye shall not be afraid of the face of any man; for the judgment is G-D’s; and the cause that is too hard for you ye shall bring unto me, and I will hear it.’ ”

Pirke Avoth 4.10 “He [Rabbi Yishmael’s son] used to say: Judge not alone, for none may judge alone except One. And say not, “Accept my opinion,” for it is for them to decide and not you.”

2 Chronicles 19:6 “Then he said to the judges, “Consider carefully what you do, for you are not judging for man, but for the L-RD, who is with you when you render judgment.”

who is with you (not against or opposed to you) Tehillim 82.1 “A Psalm of Asaph. G-D standeth in the congregation of G-D; In the midst of the judges He judgeth”

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Yeshiyahu (Isaiah) 30.21 “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying: ‘This is the way, walk ye in it, When ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.’ ”

Deuteronomy 5:32
Ye shall observe to do therefore as the L-RD your G-D hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.

Joshua 1:7
Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.

Joshua 23:6
Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left;

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Numbers 20:17
Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country: we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards, neither will we drink of the water of the wells: we will go by the king’s high way, דֶּרֶךְ הַמֶּלֶךְ נֵלֵךְ we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders.

Deuteronomy 2:27
Let me pass through thy land: I will go along by the high way, בַּדֶּרֶךְ בַּדֶּרֶךְ אֵלֵךְ I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left.

Deuteronomy 28:14
And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

Mishley 4.27 “Turn not to the right hand nor to the left; Remove thy foot from evil.”

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“AND he reared up the pillars before the temple, one on the right hand, and the other on the left; and called the name of that on the right hand Jachin, and the name of that on the left Boaz.” (II Chron. 17.)

The etymology can thus be explained, the word “Jachin” in Hebrew was pronounced Ya-Kayan, meaning firm, upright, or stable. Boaz on the other hand is “Baaz” meaning power or might. The one on the right means, “He Shall Establish” and the second, “in it is strength.”

Mishley (Proverbs) 3.16 “Length of days is in her right hand; In her left hand are riches and honour.”

from the place the L-RD will choose – from the place – min haMachom מִן־הַמָּק֣וֹם expressed in the singular to indicate the Will of HaShem (the Judgment or the Place of HaShem which is neither to the right (Length of days) nor to the left (riches and honor) but is the middle pillar [WISDOM]. This is the Place of HaShem; the fear or awe one holds HaShem in….)

B’rashith (Genesis) 3.6 “Adam where are you?” ayeka At every moment one is asked Where are you? Eventually, One must arrive at the place of HaShem – “Thus saith the L-RD: The heaven is My throne, And the earth is My footstool; Where is the house that ye may build unto Me? And where is the place that may be My resting-place?”

Esther 4.14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then will relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place, מִמָּקוֹם אַחֵר but thou and thy father’s house will perish; and who knoweth whether thou art not come to royal estate for such a time as this?’

The Judge sits in the Place of HaShem – 17.10 And you shall do according to the word they tell you, from the place the L-RD will choose, and you shall observe to do according to all they instruct you.”

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