Kenneth Cohen

G-d Fearing Judges

It is very timely that our weekly Torah portion discusses the qualifications to be a judge in Israel. Surprisingly, it was Yitro, Moshe’s father in-law, who listed these qualifications.

The primary prerequisite to be a judge in Israel, is that he must be a trustworthy, G-d fearing person. He should be a man of truth, and independently wealthy, so that he will not be able to be bribed.

It would seem to be a given that in our holy State of Israel, that there should be a prerequisite that in order to be a judge, one must fear G-d. Sadly, we have numerous judges that are not only secular, but openly admit to being atheists. This would be an obvious absurdity.

If we look into our holy writings, such as the Minchat Chinuch, we learn more about the huge task placed on one who judges in Israel. If he gets the decision correct, he becomes a partner with Hashem in creation.

The Minchat Chinuch claims that if one does not have Divine wisdom, inspired by his deep faith in G-d, he is likely to get it wrong.

He goes on to explain that this judge might be a very good person, but without this connection to the Al-mighty, he must not judge.

In every field, we must realize that our success depends on our convictions to the Creator. But this is especially true, in becoming a judge in Israel.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at