Mishpatim by Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס"ד
Discover the Holy Presence in the Holy Land
God and The Court
In continuation of our discussion of the Names of God in the past few weeks, we would like to discuss here the Name Elohim, related to God’s attribute of might and power. The reason we would like to discuss this Name this week is that the Jewish court takes on this name as well, and a central theme of this parsha is the Jewish court. Although this name in regard to the Jewish court is not holy as is the case with this name’s usage regarding God, nevertheless, it is not for naught that this name is also used in context to a Jewish court. In truth, the name “Elohim” means power and can even refer to foreign “powers,” so-to-speak, such as the sun, the moon, laws of science, money, etc., that may be worshipped in idolatry. Of course, in this usage, “Elohim” is not holy. Nevertheless, in the context of the Jewish court, the usage of “Elohim” is not so unholy as in its usage in regard to idoltry, and yet is not holy as in God’s Name “Elohim.” Rather, in regard to the Jewish court, the Holy Presence does rest with them, as it says, “Elohim [i.e., God’s Name] resides with the assembly of God [i.e., the court], amongst “Elohim” [referring to the court called “Elohim”] He [God] shall judge [i.e., provide Divine providence for the judges to make a true verdict].” (Tehillim 82:1)
Based on this premise, we can understand why the Torah commandment to enact courts (stated explicitly at the beginning of Parshat Shoftim) applies specifically in the Land of Israel, the Land of the Holy Presence, as the Rambam rules in Hilchot Sanhedrin (1:2): “We are not obligated to enact courts in every province and in every city except for the Land of Israel, but outside of the Land we are not obligated to enact a court in every province as it says: You shall enact for you in all your gates that Hashem your God gives you (Devarim 16:18).”
The connection of the Torah’s judicial system to the Holy Presence may explain the meaning of the Talmud’s statement in Megilla 17b which discusses the juxtaposition of the blessing in the Amida for the ingathering of exiles with the blessing of the return of the Torah’s judicial system: “Once the exiles are ingathered, justice is executed upon the wicked as it says (Yeshayahu 1:25-26): I will return my Hand upon you (referring to the return of Exiles) and will purge… your filth, and it says (subsequently): And I will return your judges as first.”
The Zohar (2, 79b) explicitly states that the return of the Holy Presence is dependent upon the return of Israel to their Land. Based on the aforementioned Talmudic passage and the Zohar’s statement, we can understand how the Holy Presence will first return with the return of the People to the Land, which will then give the necessary inspiration and power for the courts to enact justice.
This same Talmudic passage continues to say that once justice is enacted, wickedness will be obliterated (as in the blessing for the obliteration of evil), which leads to the prosperity of the righteous (in the following blessing), which leads to the building of Jerusalem, which leads to the coming of Mashiach. We thus see, according to this passage, that the ingathering of exiles is a key primary step, among a number of steps, for our redemption.
It is also important to note that the first step in this process is linked to the first blessing in the Amida, the blessing of the Patriarchs. Indeed, God will “remember the kindness” of these Holy Ones of Hebron “and will bring a Redeemer for his Name’s sake with love.” It is also “with love,” stemming from the realization of our common Patriarchal roots with all Jews, that unity and peace are possible, for “Eliyahu (coming with Mashiach) does not come to push off or accept (people), but rather to make peace in the world.”
Shay Mazaki, Director of the local branch of Mizrahi Bank in Neve Dekalim, and his wife, Bat-Oren, a teacher in the Ulpana in Shaar HaNegev, lived in Neve Dekalim for l4 years. On l8th May, 2005, Bat-Oren was on a teachers` yearly tiyul away from the settlement; the daughter, Li-Noi, aged l0 years, and two sons, Shilo 6 years and Yehonatan 4 years – were at home while their father, Shay, worked in his office. Suddenly at 4.30 p.m. a rocket crashed near their home, and while Li-Noi, terrified, was relating this to her father, another rocked plummeted and landed in their back yard. Luckily, the double-fitted windows in the lounge where Li-Noi was standing didn’t splinter, and she wasn’t hurt! Shay immediately started driving home but on the way, a third rocket found the Mazaki family and landed just behind his car. Shay drove even faster and when he stopped he realized that a third miracle had occurred. The fuel tank had been hit —and hadn’t exploded! Tires were punctured, windows smashed and the car-body was perforated with holes —altogether a very badly damaged vehicle But Shay, thank G-d, was unharmed, and not particularly worried about the car. His main concern was to reach his children and home as soon as possible. It was clear that a miracle had taken place and all, thank G-d were safe. Today, the Mazaki family is functioning as usual and will continue to do so in the future in Neve Dekalim, Gush Katif.