Shoftim, Siman 1 שופטים, א׳
1 א

שׁוֹפְטִים וְשׁוֹטְרִים. זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב: מַגִּיד דְּבָרָיו לְיַעֲקֹב חֻקָּיו וּמִשְׁפָּטָיו לְיִשְׂרָאֵל (תהלים קמז, יט). דְּבָרָיו, אֵלּוּ דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה. חֻקָּיו, אֵלּוּ הַמִּדְרָשׁוֹת. וּמִשְׁפָּטָיו, אֵלּוּ הַדִּינִין. לֹא נָתַן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת הַתּוֹרָה וְאֶת הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים, אֶלָּא לְיִשְׂרָאֵל בִּלְבַד. וּמִנַּיִן אַתָּה לָמֵד. שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל וְנָכְרִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהֶם עֵסֶק זֶה עִם זֶה, שֶׁאָסוּר לְיִשְׂרָאֵל לוֹמַר לַנָּכְרִי, לֵךְ עִמִּי לְעַרְכָּאוֹת שֶׁלָּכֶם. וְשֶׁהוּא עוֹבֵר בְּלָאו, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: לֹא עָשָׂה כֵן לְכָל גּוֹי וּמִשְׁפָּטִים בַּל יְדָעוּם הַלְלוּיָּה (שם פסוק כ). וַהֲלֹא אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם נִצְטַוּוּ עַל הַדַּיָּנִין, שֶׁהִיא אַחַת מִשֶּׁבַע מִצְוֹת שֶׁנִּצְטַוּוּ בְּנֵי נֹחַ. וּמַהוּ מִשְׁפָּטִים בַּל יְדָעוּם. אֵלּוּ דִּקְדּוּקֵי הַדִּין. שֶׁכָּךְ שָׁנִינוּ, מַעֲשֶׂה וּבָדַק בֶּן זַכַּאי בְּעֻקְצֵי תְּאֵנִים. וּבְנֵי נֹחַ הוֹרְגִים בְּעֵד אֶחָד, וּבַדַּיָּן אֶחָד, וְשֶׁלֹּא בַּהַתְרָאָה. מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל, לְפִי שֶׁדִּינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה, וְדִינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת בְּעֶשְׂרִים וּשְׁלֹשָׁה. וּכְתִיב: לֹא יָקוּם עֵד אֶחָד בְּאִישׁ וְגוֹ' (דברים יט, טו). וּצְרִיכִין דְּרִישָׁה וַחֲקִירָה. כֵּיצַד בּוֹדְקִין אֶת הָעֵדִים, מַכְנִיסִין אוֹתָן וּמְאַיְּמִין עֲלֵיהֶם. וְעוֹד הָיוּ בּוֹדְקִין בְּשֶׁבַע חֲקִירוֹת, בְּאֵיזֶה יוֹם, בְּאֵיזֶה שָׁבוּעַ, בְּאֵיזֶה חֹדֶשׁ, בְּכַמָּה לַחֹדֶשׁ, בְּאֵיזֹה שָׁעָה, בְּאֵיזֶה מָקוֹם. מַכִּירִין אַתֶּם אוֹתוֹ, הִתְרֵיתֶם בּוֹ, כִּדְאָמְרִינַן בְּמַסֶּכֶת סַנְהֶדְרִין. וְכֵן אַתְּ מוֹצֵא בְּפַרְנְסֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, שֶׁלֹּא נִשְׁתַּבְּחוּ אֶלָּא עַל יְדֵי הַדִּין. בִּשְׁמוּאֵל כְּתִיב: וְהָלַךְ מִדַּי שָׁנָה בְּשָׁנָה וְסָבַב בֵּית אֵל וְגוֹ' (ש״‎א ז, טז). וְאַף דָּוִד לֹא נִשְׁתַּבֵּחַ אֶלָּא עַל יְדֵי הַדִּין, כְּמַה דִּכְתִיב: וַיִּמְלֹךְ דָּוִד עַל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיְהִי עוֹשֶׂה מִשְׁפָּט וּצְדָקָה לְכָל עַמּוֹ (דה״‎א יח, יד). וְאַף יְהוֹשָׁפָט כֵּיוָן שֶׁנִּתְחַזֵּק בַּמַּלְכוּת, לֹא נִתְעַסֵּק בְּעִסְקֵי מַלְכוּת, וְלֹא בְּעֹשֶׁר, וְלֹא בְּכָבוֹד, וְלֹא בְּדָבָר אַחֵר, אֶלָּא בַּדִּין, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיִּמְלֹךְ יְהוֹשָׁפָט וְגוֹ' וַיִּתְחַזֵּק עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל (דה״‎ב יז, א). מַהוּ וַיִּתְחַזֵּק, שֶׁנִּתְחַזֵּק וּמִנָּה אֶת הַדַּיָּנִין. וְאוֹמֵר: וַיִּגְבַּהּ לִבּוֹ בְּדַרְכֵי ה' וְעוֹד הֵסִיר אֶת הַבָּמוֹת וְאֶת הָאֲשֵׁרִים מִיְהוּדָה (שם פסוק ו). גַּסּוּת רוּחַ הָיְתָה בּוֹ שֶׁהוּא אָמַר וַיִּגְבַּהּ לִבּוֹ. אֶלָּא שֶׁמִּנָּה דַּיָּנִין עֲלֵיהֶן הַיּוֹדְעִין לָלֶכֶת בְּדַרְכֵי ה', שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וְשָׁמְרוּ דֶּרֶךְ ה' לַעֲשׂוֹת צְדָקָה וּמִשְׁפָּט (בראשית יח, יט). וְאוֹמֵר לַדַּיָּנִין, רְאוּ כִּי הַמִּשְׁפָּט לֵאלֹהִים הוּא (דברים א, יז). וּמַה מּשֶׁה שֶׁלֹּא נִצְטַוָּה עַל הַדַּיָּנִין אֶלָּא מִמַּה שֶּׁאָמַר לוֹ יִתְרוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וְאַתָּה תֶּחֱזֶה מִכָּל הָעָם אַנְשֵׁי חַיִל וְגוֹ' (שמות יח, כא), הוֹשִׁיב סַנְהֶדְרִין. אָנוּ שֶׁנִּצְטַוֵּינוּ בַּתּוֹרָה לְמַנּוֹת סַנְהֶדְרִין, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: שׁוֹפְטִים וְשׁוֹטְרִים תִּתֵּן לְךָ, עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה. וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁהוֹשִׁיב מֹשֶׁה סַנְהֶדְרִין עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל. דִּכְתִיב: וַיִּבְחַר מֹשֶׁה אַנְשֵׁי חַיִל וְגוֹ'. וְאַף יְרוּשָׁלַיִם לֹא נִשְׁתַּבְּחָה אֶלָּא עַל יְדֵי הַדִּין, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיֵּצֵא לָךְ שֵׁם בַּגּוֹיִם בְּיָפְיֵךְ וְגוֹ' (יחזקאל טז, יד). וְאֵיזֶה הוּא הִדּוּר. זֶה הַדִּין, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וְדַל לֹא תְּהַדֵּר בְּרִיבוֹ (שמות כז, ג). וְלֹא חָרְבָה יְרוּשָׁלַיִם אֶלָּא עַל קִלְקוּל הַדִּין, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: טְמֵאַת הַשֵּׁם רַבַּת הַמְּהוּמָה (יחזקאל כב, ה), שֵׁם שֶׁהָיָה לָךְ עַל יְדֵי הַדִּין, טִמֵּאת. וּכְתִיב: מְלֵאָתִי מִשְׁפָּט צֶדֶק יָלִין בָּהּ וְעַתָּה מְרַצְּחִים (ישעיה א, כא). עַל יְדֵי שֶׁהָיְתָה מְלֵאָתִי מִשְׁפָּט, צֶדֶק יָלִין בָּהּ. לְכָךְ אָמַר לָהֶם יִרְמְיָה, לֹא הֶאֱמִינוּ מַלְכֵי אֶרֶץ כָּל יוֹשְׁבֵי תֵּבֵל וְגוֹ' (איכה ד, יב). וּכְתִיב: מֵחַטֹּאת נְבִיאֶיהָ עֲוֹנוֹת כֹּהֲנֶיהָ וְגוֹ' (שם פסוק יג). בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה נִשְׁבַּע הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא שֶׁהוּא נִפְרַע לְעַצְמוֹ מִן הַדַּיָּנִין, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: לָכֵן נְאֻם הָאָדוֹן ה' צְבָאוֹת אַבִּיר יִשְׂרָאֵל וְגוֹ' (ישעיה א, כד). וְאֵין לָכֵן אֶלָּא לְשׁוֹן שְׁבוּעָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: לָכֵן נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לְבֵית עֵלִי (ש״‎א ג, יד). אֵין אַבִּיר אֶלָּא אַב בֵּית דִּין, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: אַבִּיר הָרֹעִים (שם כא, ח). לְלַמֶּדְךָ, שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא נַעֲשֶׂה אַב בֵּית דִּין לְהִפָּרַע מֵהֶן. מִנַּיִן שֶׁבְּדַיָּנִין הַכָּתוּב מְדַבֵּר. רְאֵה מַה כְּתִיב אַחֲרָיו, וְאָשִׁיבָה שׁוֹפְטַיִךְ כְּבָרִאשׁוֹנָה וְיוֹעֲצַיִךְ כְּבַתְּחִלָּה (ישעיה א, כו). לְפִיכָךְ אָמַר דָּוִד, מַגִּיד דְּבָרָיו לְיַעֲקֹב וְגוֹ' (תהלים קמז, יט).

(Deut. 16:18:) “[You shall appoint] judges and law officers.” This text is related (to Ps. 147:19), “He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.” “His words” are the words of Torah; “His statutes” are the expositions (midrsahot); “and His ordinances” are the judgments [to Israel]. The Holy One, blessed be He, gave the Torah and the judgments to no one but to Israel alone. And where is it shown? You learn that when Israel and a star-worshiping gentile have a dispute with each other, it is forbidden for Israel to say to the gentile, “Go with me to your courts,”1Arka’ot; cf. Gk.: archai (“authorities”) or [archeia (“town offices”). because he would be transgressing a prohibition, since it is stated (in Ps. 147:20), “He has not done so for any nation (goy); and, as for His ordinances, they have not known them.” But were not the peoples of the world commanded concerning litigations, since that is one of the seven commandments of the Children of Noah? So what is the significance of (ibid.), “and, as for His ordinances, they have not known them?” These are the fine points of the law (din). As so have we taught (in Sanh. 5:2), “There was once a case that Ben Zakkay cross-examined [witnesses] about fig stems.”2The gemara (Sanh. 41a) explains that a capital offense was involved. Now the Children of Noah are put to death on the evidence of a single witness, with a single judge, and without a warning. [Whereas that is] something which does not exist in Israel, since there are three judges in property cases, and there are twenty-three judges in capital cases.3Sanh. 4:1. Moreover, it is written (in Deut. 19:15), “A single witness shall not be valid against a person….” So there must be an investigation and an inquiry. How do they examine the witnesses? They bring them in and solemnly forewarn them. Then they would examine them again with seven inquiries:4Sanh. 5:1. 1. In what week?5I.e., week of years, Sabbatical year of the Jubilee cycle. 2. In what year? 3. In what month? 4. On what [day] of the month? 5. In what hour? 6. In what place? 7. Did you forewarn him?6This last query is one of various supplemental questions listed in Sanh. 5:1. This is as we say in Tractate Sanhedrin. And so you find among the leaders7Parnas. Cf. Gk.: pronoi (“prudent ones”, “those who take forethought”). of Israel that they were praised only for their judging.8I.e., in various summary statements about Israel’s leaders, e.g., Judges 4:4; 10:2, 3; 12:7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 14; 15:20; 16:31; I Sam. 4:18; 7:6, 15–17; 8:1, 5–6, 20; I Kings 3:9, it is the fact that they judged Israel that is specifically mentioned. This fact may not always be obvious in modern translations, because they do not always render Shpt as “judge” but by other English verbs, such as “govern” or “rule.” It is written concerning Samuel (in I Sam. 7:6), “And he went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, [Gilgal, and Mizpah; and he judged Israel in all those places].” And David also was praised only for his judging, as stated (in I Chron. 18:14 // II Sam. 8:15), “And David reigned over all of Israel and he administered judgment and righteousness to all his people.” And in the case of Jehoshaphat also, when he was installed in the kingship, he did not occupy himself with the business of kingship nor with honor but with the business of judging.9Note that Jehoshaphat’s name means, “The LORD has judged.” It is so stated (in II Chron. 17:1), “Then [his son] Jehoshaphat reigned [in his stead,] and he strengthened himself over Israel.” What is the meaning of “and he strengthened himself (rt.: hzq)?” That he strengthened himself, when he appointed judges. It also says (in II Chron. 17:6), “His heart was exalted in the ways of the Lord, and in addition he removed the high places and asherim from Judah.” Was there a haughty spirit within him, in that it says, “his heart was exalted?” It is simply that he had appointed judges over them who knew how to walk in the ways of the Lord, as stated (in Gen. 18:19), “and to keep the way of the Lord, to do what is just and right.” (II Chron. 19:6:) “Then he said unto the judges,” (in Deut. 1:17), “As justice belongs to God.” Now if Moses our master, who was not commanded concerning judges,—rather Jethro told him (in Exod. 18:21), “And you shall seek out [able men] from among all the people…,” — [if he] convened a Sanhedrin;10Gk.: synedrion. how much more [important is a Sanhedrin] in our case, when it has been commanded here in the Torah (in Deut. 16:18), “You shall appoint judges and law officers for yourselves.” Where is it shown that Moses convened a Sanhedrin? Where it is stated (in Exod. 18:25), “So Moses chose able men from all Israel [and appointed them as heads over the people].” And Jerusalem also was praised only because of the justice system, as stated (in Ezek. 16:14), “And your name shall be spread among the gentiles because of your beauty, [as you were crowned with adornment (rt.: hdr)].” And what adornment (rt.: hdr) is that? This is the justice system, since it is stated (in Exod. 23:3), “Nor shall you favor (rt.: hdr) someone poor in his lawsuit.” And Jerusalem was destroyed only over perversion of justice, since it is stated (in Ezek. 22:5), “you with a besmirched name; you who are full of commotion,” the name for justice that you had at first is besmirched. It is also written (in Is. 1:21), “she (i.e., Jerusalem) was full of justice, there righteousness dwelt; but now murderers.” Because “she was full of justice, there righteousness dwelt.” For this reason, Jeremiah said to them (in Lam. 4:12-13), “The kings of the earth did not believe, [… that foe or enemy would come through the gates of Jerusalem]. It was for the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests [who shed the blood of the righteous in her midst].” At that time the Holy One, blessed be He, swore that He Himself would exact retribution from the judges, as stated (in Is. 1:24), “Therefore thus says the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the Most Mighty of Israel, [‘Ah, I will exact vengeance from my foes]….’” Now “therefore” can only be a term [related to] an oath, since it is stated (in I Sam. 3:14), “And I therefore swear to the house of Eli.” Moreover, mighty can only be a term for the av bet din (head of the court), since it is stated (in I Sam. 21:8), “the most mighty of the shepherds [that belong to Saul].” [This is] to teach you that the Holy One, blessed be He, became an av bet din in order to exact vengeance from them. And where is it shown that the text is speaking about judges? See what is written after it (in Is. 1:26), “And I will restore your judges as in the beginning.” Therefore David has said (in Ps. 147:19), “He declares His words to Jacob, [His statutes and His ordinances to Israel].”