Remember, when the judgment’s weak, the prejudice is strong. -K. O’Hara
The theme of justice runs strongly throughout the Torah. We are advised to pursue justice diligently. One of the first organizational efforts of the nascent nation of Israel is to create a justice system. Judges were appointed to represent every ten individuals, with a system of additional judges to handle cases that may have been too difficult for the parochial judges.
This court system is likewise warned of the danger of bribes, with the famous line that “the bribe will blind the sharp ones, and will corrupt the words of the wise.”
The Baal Haturim on Numbers 18:19 explains that a judge’s corruptibility is directly dependent on his financial situation. If the judge is independently wealthy “like a king,” states the Baal Haturim, then his judgment and his rulings will be established and impervious to financial considerations. If, however, the judge is needy “like a Cohen,” (the Cohen in biblical times was completely dependent on the donations, handouts and charity of the Israelite landowners), then his judgments and rulings will only lead to ruin, as he may have other pressures or considerations in mind, besides those of absolute justice.
May we reach levels of success that will make us incorruptible.
To my teacher from many years ago, Rabbi Kalman Ber, current Chief Rabbi of the city of Netanya. It was an incredible surprise and delight to have him in Montevideo.