Shoftim – Humility+Truth+Holiness=The Final Redemption

There is a mitzvah upon all of humanity to set up court systems. Even non-Jewish nations are commanded to do so as part of the Seven Noahide Laws; yet there is something special about a Jewish Court, run by Torah Law.
The Torah commands us in this week’s Torah portion of Shoftim: “Judges and police you shall give within all your gates that Hashem your G-D has given to you to your tribes and they will judge the nation righteous judgement” (Devarim 16:18).

The Medrish Rabba (Shoftim 5:7) quotes a parable by Rebbi Levi: “What is this compared to? To a king who had many children but he loved the smallest one more than the other. He also had a garden and he loved that more than anything else he owned. The king said, ‘I will give this garden which I love the most to my smallest son who I love the most.’ So to Hashem said, ‘From all the nations I have created I only love the Jews,’ as it says ‘For the Jews are young and are His loved ones,’(Hoshea chapter 11). ‘From all I have created I only love judgement’ as it says I am Hashem who loves justice,’ (Yeshaya chaper 61). Hashem said, ‘I am going to give what I love to the nation whom I love, this is the intention of the pasuk ‘Judges and police…’ Hashem said to the Jews, ‘My children, I swear on your life, in the merit of you observing proper judgement I will become elevated.’ How do we know this? As it says, ‘And Hashem the G-D of Legions will be elevated through justice’ (Yeshaya chapter 5). ‘And because you elevate me through judgement I will in turn do righteousness and rest My holiness amongst you.’ How do we know this? As it says, ‘And the Holy G-D will be sanctified through righteousness’ (Yeshaya chapter 5).  ‘And if you observe both the righteousness and judgement immediately I will redeem you with complete redemption.’ How do we know this? As it says, ‘Thus said Hashem if they keep justice and do righteousness, for my salvation is close to come and my righteousness to redeem’(Yeshaya chapter 56).” (Click here for Hebrew text.)

The Maharz”u commenting on this parable says: “That it is the nature of the world to love the youngest child for even though one has older children and he loves all of them, but all his fun and entertainment is with the youngest child. So to by the garden, even though one might have a lot more, more expensive property, still in all, all his fun and entertainment is in the garden.”

The Maharz”u explains the application gleaned from the parable as follows: What it means when it says that the Jews are ‘a lad and his beloved’ is that we are the ‘fewest amongst all the nations,’ as is written in the end of the Torah portion of Vaeschanan. This means that Hashem’s love for the Jewish people is due to our humbling of  ourselves; therefore Hashem loves us, and therefore he commanded us regarding justice. What it means when it says that Hashem will be elevated, is that if there is judgement on earth there is no need for judgement in Heaven; so for having judges and police on earth [enforcing justice] there is no judgement and punishment [needed] to come from Heaven rather there is only righteousness.Everyone will then praise Hashem, and this is what it means when the pasuk in Yeshaya says: “And Hashem the G-D of Legions will be elevated through justice and the Holy G-D will be sanctified through righteousness.” The more you guard the righteous,  the closer they will come to the true redemption.
There are a lot of observations that could be made from this Medrish, and the Maharz”u’s explanation of it. First off, the parable says that the king loved his youngest child more than the rest of his children, whom he also loves, but in application the Medrish says Hashem only loves the Jews. Secondly, according to the Maharz”u, the youngest isn’t meant literally; rather, it means ‘the most humble,’ or, literally, the nation which belittles itself the most. Thirdly, why and how is judgement and humbling ourselves Hashem’s entertainment and fun?  Finally: what is the connection between all of this and the final redemption; why hasn’t it yet come? The Mishna in Pirkei Avos (3:18) that Rebbe Akiva used to say: “Beloved is man for he was created in G-D’s image; it is indicative of a greater love that it was made known to him that he was created in G-D’s image, as it is said: ‘For in the image of G-D He made man.” This means that all of mankind is loved by Hashem – but we must say that the love of Hashem towards the Jewish people is so immense that the love towards the rest of the nation are, in contrast, like nothing.  But this Mishna in fact goes on to point out how Hashem loves the Jewish people on two accounts: “Beloved are the people of Israel, for they are described as children of the Omnipresent, as it says ‘You are children to Hashem our G-D.’ Beloved are the people of Israel, for a cherished utensil was given to them; it is indicative of a greater love that it was made known to them that they were given a cherished utensil, as it said: ‘ For I have given you a good teaching; do not forsake my Torah.”

Hashem accepted us as His beloved children and gave us the treasured gift of the Torah because we humbled ourselves by subjugating our life to Him when we said naaseh vinishma [”We will do and then we will listen”] before accepting the Torah. And what is justice? It is arriving at and enforcing the truth. Hashem’s truth is not subjective; it is objective. My Rosh HaYeshiva zt”l used to say that one of the most important character traits one must perfect and live by is honesty, truth. No wonder justice is Hashem’s fun and entertainment; he is totally honest – since there is no falsehood by Him, the enforcement of truth is His delight! So Hashem gave this enforcement of honesty, “His fun,” to those who humbled themselves and were willing to abide by this objective truth.  That is why we are more beloved than any other nation by Hashem. Now, if we are able to enforce law and order and hand out punishment according to the truthful way of the Torah, then people could be properly atoning for their sins in this world and would be able to go straight to heaven if they went through the process of repentance, in the Next World. This gives Hashem the opportunity to imbue holiness into the world, which is His way of acting righteously (instead of needing to punish man in Gehinom when they sin). If we would just keep pure and keep up proper judgement, this would be one formula for bringing the complete redemption of ultimate truth to the world, may it come speedily in our days.

Obviously not contaminating the holy, and even constantly enforcing strict and proper judgement, seems not to be that easy. Yet that is one possibility why the coming of Moshiach and the final redemption have not yet arrived. What we as individuals can do is to work on humbling ourselves, to be open and accepting of understanding Hashem’s objective truth, the only real truth – the Torah.  In that way we can properly observe the Torah and Hashem can spread more holiness on earth, so one day, in our lifetime, we will be redeemed back to Zion forever.

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