We started last week to read the Book of Deuteronomy which begins with a travelogue. Moses describes the events which transpired during the 40 years of wandering in the desert and the preparation of the infrastructure necessary for settling in the Promised Land. This is a review of the portion of the Torah we just had in the closing of the book of Bamidbar (numbers) with the 42 stops during the desert.
After the travelogue, the first order of business that Moses instructs the people is the establishment of a judicial system. “Judge righteously between a man and his brother” (Deuteronomy 1;16)
How does one judge righteously?
“You shall not show partiality in judgment” (Deuteronomy 1;17). The intent is not to discriminate between the opposing sides but rather to listen to the arguments of each side without regard to whether one is wealthy or poor.
This is the basis of judging righteously.
However, there is something else that the judge must take into account. “Open your mouth for the mute, in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.” (Proverbs 31;8)
In other words, if the judge sees that one of the litigants is having difficulty in presenting his case, he must help him by asking leading questions. (Tractate Ketubot 36a)
We were just told that the fact that we should not judge the case based on whether one is wealthy or poor. Why should the Judge now help the side that can’t provide its case properly with helping him?
On the one hand, the law demands impartiality while on the other hand, the spirit of the law tells the judge to “open the mouth of the mute”. While it appears that the “spirit of the law” contradicts the law itself, in reality, one compliments the other and enables a truly righteous judgment. This is because the Judge has an assignment from G-d to give a fair judgment. If one side is mixed up, the Judge in the interest of fairness, wants to know both sides of the case. If there were not two sides, they probably would not be in the court in the first place. The Hebrew letter Peh represents the mouth. There are two Pehs to let us know the judge should open the mouth of the litigant to fairly present his case.
It’s All About Chemistry
Mr. Rosenberg was a popular science teacher at King David High School because he encouraged his students to experiment on their own. But sometimes, his students took this leeway a little too far.
For example, one day Sammy Singer wanted to make some potassium hydroxide solution and he decided to throw a large lump of potassium into a bucket of water.
Out of the corner of his eye, Mr. Rosenberg observed what Sammy was about to do and hurried over. After confirming this was what was intended, Mr. Rosenberg said, “First stir the water in the bucket for five minutes before adding the potassium.”
“Why?” asked Sammy
“Well,” replied Mr. Rosenberg, “It will give me time to get away!”