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Dvar Torah - Devarim

"Zion will be redeemed with justice, and those who return to it with righteousness." -- Isaiah The words above, from this week's haftorah, also form an important message for this week's parsha. This week begins the series of speeches Moshe gave the Children of Israel immediately before he passed away and they crossed the Jordan River. Moshe tells the people: "Come and inherit the Land!" He then tells them, "At that time, I told you I will not on my own be able to lead you... Bring from amongst men who are wise, knowledgeable, and known to your tribes, and I will place them at your head... and I ordered your judges at that time: 'listen to your brothers and judge justly between a man, his brother, and the stronger with him." (Devarim 1, 8-16)

Why does the imperative to settle the Land lead immediately to appointing a judicial system? Chanan Porat answers from the verse quoted at the start of this article: social justice is a necessary condition for the successful settling of the Land of Israel. That is the lesson Moshe seeks to teach the People of Israel here. The message is also the opening salvo of Iasaiah's prophecy, the most critical statement he feels he must convey to the Jewish people. Indeed, the book of Isaiah is mainly concerned with justice and only very minimally with the sins of idolatry.

This also forms a crucial message for Tisha Beav. On Tisha Beav, we are taught that the Temple was destroyed due to baseless hatred amongst the Jewish people and a lack of social harmony. A functioning justice system is a necessary precondition to peace between members of society. A trusted dispute resolution process means that people don't fight as much, don't feel the need to take matters into their own hands, and that disputes are less likely to spiral into feuds and bloodshed. As we approach the saddest day in our calendar, let us all work hard to bring more justice into the world so that we may be soon redeemed and see peace on Earth.




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