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Congregation Or Shalom
835 Darby Paoli Road
Berwyn, PA 19312
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Kami Knapp Schechter

Andrew Levin

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Larisa Averbakh

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Dvar September 6 2019 & September 7 2019: Shoftim

Dvar September 6 & 7:


Justice, Justice, you shall pursue

  • Look at context: 16:20
  • As the Biblical verse reminds us: “Justice, justice you shall pursue!” (Deuteronomy 16:20). According to Rabbi Harold Kushner, editor of the Etz Hayim Torah Commentary ( of Conservative Judaism), “this implies more than merely respecting or following justice; we must actively pursue it.” Kushner learns this from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the great preachers and practitioners of social justice among American rabbis in the last century. I would add that the repetition of the word justice in this verse emphasizes the centrality of this value in our religious consciousness and behavior, both traditionally and today. – huffpost, Ron Kronish
  • What does justice mean to you?
  • Why is justice repeated twice?
    • Biblical hebrew: will repeat words like mot yumat to emphasize something heavily
    • Talmud Sanhedrin 32b
    • As it has been taught: Justice, justice you shall pursue. The first [mention of justice] refers to a decision based on strict law; the second, to a compromise. How so? Where two boats sailing on a river meet, if both attempt to pass simultaneously, both will sink. However, if one makes way for the other, both can pass [without mishap]. Likewise, if two camels met each other while on the ascent to Beth-Horon [a high mountain with a narrow path]; if they both ascend [at the same time] both may tumble down [into the valley]; but if [they ascend] after each other, both can go up [safely]. How then should they act? If one is laden and the other unladen, the latter should give way to the former. If one is nearer [to its destination] than the other, the former should give way to the latter. If both are [equally] near or far [from their destination,] make a compromise between them, with the one [which is to go forward] compensating the other [which has to give way].
  • My interpretation: First justice is a mandate to the judges, the second justice is a mandate to all of us
    • What is your justice? And work towards it.