Kenneth Cohen

Pursue justice

This week’s Torah portion, Shoftim, deals with the subject of judges and the pursuit of justice. The Torah uses the word, צדק, justice twice.

This is as if to say that a Jew must pursue honesty at all costs. This honesty must never be compromised.

Moshe Rabbeinu demonstrated this after the incident of the death of the two sons of Aaron. Moshe reprimanded the surviving sons for the manner in which they dealt with the sacrifices. When Aaron showed Moshe why they acted correctly, Moshe was honest enough to admit when he was wrong.

There is also the manner in which capital cases were tried. If there was a unanimous vote of the judges, to execute the sinner, he would go free. It became suspicious that not even one judge could find merit.

The Or Hachayim said that if you are the judge with the final vote, and all judges before you voted to convict, and you know that your not guilty vote will get that person convicted you still must do the right thing. You must always go the honest route, and must never water down the truth.

We must truly pursue justice.

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
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