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"For Instruction shall come forth from Zion, The word of the L-rd from Jerusalem." -- Isaiah 2:3

Jerusalem

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DEUTERONOMY — 16:19 partiality

In addition to recognizing that the quality of justice depends on the qualities of those dispensing it, Judaism also offers the insight that justice does not exist in the abstract but is directly dependent upon the quality of evidence presented and the procedures used to present it. The Torah established that at least two witnesses were required for any conviction. (Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15). Because their word would prescribe the minimum burden of proof, the Rabbis established intricate laws to ensure the greatest possible reliability of those witnesses. Witnesses could not use hearsay; they had to be competent; they could not be informants; they were subject to vigorous cross-examination; the testimony could not be contradicted if it was to be the basis of judgment; affirmative efforts had to be made to solicit witnesses for the defense; and confessions in criminal cases were inadmissible. (For a summary of these rules, see M.T. Laws of Evidence generally, but especially chaps. 1-5, 17, and 22). Each of these rules reflects an important judgment about the type of procedure most likely to lead to a just verdict. The Torah itself sets forth layers of protection to guard against the corruption of witnesses and the courts (for example, Deuteronomy 16:18–20; 19:16-20). The Rabbis added even more (for a summary of such added layers of protection against a corrupt court, see M.T. Sanhedrin [Laws of Courts], chaps. 20, 21, and 24). Even in modern times, there are constant debate as to what kind of tribunals should be used for criminal cases. The recent debate over how international tribunals should operate, or whether military tribunals should be used to try alleged terrorists, raises the same fundamental questions. Judaism not only offers examples of procedures still used today, but more fundamentally it teaches that a verdict is only as legitimate as the procedures that are used.
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DEUTERONOMY — 16:19 pervert

It is stated in the Midrash (Ruth Rabbah 1:1-2): "Rabbi asked Rabbi Betzalel: 'What is the meaning of (Hoshea 2:7): "For their mother has been adulterous"?' He answered:' When do words of Torah become adulterous? When their lords despise them. How so? As with the sage sitting and expanding [this verse]: "Do not pervert judgment," when he himself perverts judgment; "Do not play favorites," when he himself plays favorites; "Do not take a bribe," when he himself takes bribes.'" And thus did our Rabbis of blessed memory expound (Koheles 9:16): "The poor man's wisdom is despised." What does this mean? If one is poor in good deeds, his wisdom is despised. If he exhorts to the doing of good when he himself does not do it, his words are not accepted (Avos 1:17): "And it is not a learning which is primary, but the doing." Therefore, all men must perform their deeds for the sake of Heaven. This is clearly demonstrated in the case of Elisha ben Avuyah, who, because his father taught him Torah not for its own sake, in the end turned to heresy ... (Yerushalmi (Chagigah 2:1), Koheles Rabbah 7:8-18). [Note: See Milton Steinberg, As a Driven Leaf, 1939, for a novel based on the imagined life, times (early Rabbinic Era) and religious/philosophical struggles of Elisha ben Avuyah -- AJL].
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DEUTERONOMY — 16:20 justice

(Continued from Leviticus 19:18 love BLOCH 68). "Fearful and faint-hearted" men were among those who were exempted from serving in the army. In the opinion of one rabbi, the "fearfulness" was not based on cowardice but rather on an awareness of one's sinful life. (Deuteronomy, Sifre 112). This insightful comment reflects a true appreciation of the real intent of the Pentateuch, the exclusion of the rowdy element which is likely to lower the moral standard of an army. This aim was clearly spelled out in [this verse].
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DEUTERONOMY — 16:20 justice

In Hebrew, the word for charity is tzedaka. But "charity" is not a fully accurate translation of tzedaka. "Charity" derives from the Latin caritas and suggests a donation made out of affection or love. In contrast, tzedaka derives from the word tzedek, which means "justice" (see, for example, [this verse]). Judaism regards someone who gives tzedaka as acting justly, and one who does not as acting unjustly. Thus, in communities ruled according to Jewish law, as was common in the medieval world, communal leaders, believing that they had the right to stop people from acting unjustly, could and did require people to give tzedaka, just as governments compel citizens to pay taxes.
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DEUTERONOMY — 16:20 justice

It should be noted that there is a fine line between the concept of "justice," which is always advisable and legitimate, and one who seeks "revenge," which always has negative connotations and is forbidden. Almost everyone who seeks revenge would not call it revenge, but "justice" carried out in order to correct how that person has been wronged. And seeking justice is certainly a Mitzvah (this verse]. Because of this rationalization that will become the mantra of anyone seeking revenge, that may be part of the reason why the Torah prohibited this sin altogether.
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DEUTERONOMY — 16:20 justice

Judaism, as will be shown through numerous sources, places caring about others and acting benevolently towards other people as the absolute highest priority of the religion. From Scripture to the Talmud to the Midrash and beyond, the value of behaving ethically towards other human beings describes the essence of being Jewish. For example, when declaring which one principle epitomizes Judaism, Rabbi Akiva states it is the verse, known to many: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Jerusalem Talmud, Nedarim 30b). He mentions nothing about G-d, beliefs, or man-to-G-d Mitzvot-commandments in describing the essence of Judaism. Rather, only good behavior towards one's fellow man. In a similar vein, Hillel was forced to encapsulate all of Judaism to the potential convert standing on one foot. Hillel stated essentially the same thing as Rabbi Akiva, except he couched the idea in a more negative but practical manner: "Do not do to your neighbor what you would not want to have done do you (Shabbat 31a). He continues and says that all the rest of Judaism is only commentary based upon this one essential principle and that the convert should now go learn all of Torah. The Torah itself also emphasizes this concept. It tells us not merely to attain it, but to run after and pursue righteousness (sometimes mistranslated as "justice") [this verse]. This is commonly understood to signify that each Jew should ensure that he or she should do the right thing in every situation, i.e., specifically between man and his fellow man. The Torah emphasizes the importance of this notion in the verse in two different ways: it repeats the word "righteousness" twice and it also tells us to run after this concept. In no other place in the Torah (and only in one place in Psalms, about pursuing peace) does G-d use the term "run after it" concerning any other Mitzvah-commandment. Jews are not commanded to run after keeping Kosher or run after eating Matzo on Passover. Only with regard to treating others in the right manner must one actively pursue this goal. The prophet Micah also informs us exactly what G-d wants from each Jew: to do justice and kindness as one walks modestly with G-d. According to the commentaries, this refers only to the commandments that pertain to our goodness and how well we treat our fellow man (Micah 6:8 with Ibn Ezra commentary).
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DEUTERONOMY — 16:20 justice

More than a slogan, "Justice, justice you shall pursue" [this verse] is the overall guiding principle for Jewish ethics. On an individual level we are charged to go beyond simply being just; we must also be compassionate, going lifnim meshurat hadin, beyond the strict "letter of the law." An example is given in the Talmud of workers who broke a barrel of wine. Even though by halakhah the workers could have had their wages docked, they complained: "We are poor, and if you withhold our wages, we cannot eat." When the business owner consulted his rabbi, he was told, "Go and pay them [their full wages]. The owner asked, "Is that the law?" "It is indeed," the rabbi continued "[for we are enjoined to] Keep the path of the righteous." (B. Bava Batra 83a. The biblical verse is cited in Proverbs 2:20). The Jewish tradition thus envisions a world where in business as in all other areas of life, we act lifnim meshurat hadin, beyond the strict letter of the law, to create a world of peace, harmony, and compassion.
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