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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad

Yitro 17-2


Exodus 18:13-23 

But select capable men from all the people‹men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain‹ and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.

Ex. 18:21 NIV

Why are judges needed?

Men have a good and an evil inclination within. The evil inclination is selfish and only seeks benefits for the self. Due to the evil inclination there are conflicts and wars among men. While there is an evil inclination in men there will be conflicts among people.

Those who have more than one child soon realize that men are born selfish. Parents must act as judges any time their children have a conflict between them that they can't solve on their own. In a family, it's normal that parents have to judge their children everyday to bring order, peace and justice among them. It's important for parents to know the Torah so they can apply it in the relationship among their children. Abuse, theft, violence, bad language and other bad behaviour in children must not be allowed. Parents are responsible of correcting any behaviour that conflicts with the Torah in their children. That's why it's not good to leave children in the care of others until they have grown several years in their own home's environment where the Torah rules and where there is personal attention to each one of them, much better that in any daycare.

A system of judges is necessary both in families and in society. When there is a conflict between people and they can't solve it by themselves, there has to be a judge that dictates a fair sentence. The judge is set over citizens of a country in representation of the Almighty. Whatever the judge dictates has to be respected as if it had come directly from heaven. The only instance in which a judge's sentence must not be obeyed is when he doesn't follow the rules of the Torah. That's why it's very important that a judge understands his or her responsibility to judge according justice and not his or her personal criteria.

When Moshe's father-in-law Yitro suggested to him to select judges over the people, it wasn't enough that they were "capable", meaning that they were skillful leaders and administrators, but also that they "feared God". This quality is extremely important when judging. A judge who has no fear of heaven becomes corrupt and capricious. Moreover, they had to be trustworthy - men who hated lies. The last quality of a judge is that he hates dishonest gain, and corruption. All nations need these kind of judges to achieve peace and justice within society.

When Yeshua instructs his disciples not to judge, he does so from a personal point of view. In our relationship with our neighbour, it's forbidden to judge others, but that's not the case of a court. The context in Matthew 7 speaks about judging faults in our neighbours. When one judges one’s neighbour's faults it is usually evidence that the one who judges has those same faults him/herself on a larger scale. The one who is bothered by the speck in his brother's eye is the one with the plank in his own.

In personal relationships, we have to be very careful not to judge what we think are somebody else's motives. Usually, the reason behind people's behaviour is unknown. Only HaShem knows the hearts' motives and we have no right to judge them - neither on a personal level nor by any human court system. A human court can only judge facts, not motives or hidden reasons or issues.

What men do in secret will be judged by the heavenly court that sees everything. But specific and concrete actions can and must be judged by a human court, following the rules established by the Torah for that purpose.

May the Eternal raise mature judges among us who are able to judge correctly and to bring justice and peace among the people.

Shalom uvrachah  (peace and blessing),


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