Things Haven't Changed Much in the Last 400 Years....
- How to choose the best dayan/rabbinical judge (Hint: Nepotism is REALLY bad.)
- How to be the best dayan
- How to remain strong in war
And instead of saying v’shaftu (which is generally command form, i.e. “And judge!”), why doesn’t it say the usual v’yishfatu ("and they shall judge")?
….this verse is a command to whoever has the opportunity to appoint dayanim (judges), that he needs to make sure that they will not curry favor with anyone – not even with the person who appointed them.
“....you shall give to yourself” implies over yourself, resulting in them judging the entire nation with righteous judgment because if they [the dayanim] won’t favor you, then all the more so, [anyone in] the rest of the nation....
Not as is the custom in our generation where every person who has the opportunity to appoint dayanim selects for himself his relative or friend, the implied condition being that they’ll favor him – and that’s exactly what they do, resulting in the entire nation, even those with no connection [to him], being judged unjustly because the dayan needs to equalize all the verdicts so that no one will tell him, “But yesterday, you ruled this-and-such for your relative or friend or countryman, and now you change the verdict for this one.”
It is human nature to defend and rationalize the behavior of those engaged in the same profession. (For example, try criticizing a doctor – even without mentioning any names – to another doctor. Or complaining about a teacher – again, with no identifying details – to another teacher. You’ll see that they’ll often instinctively search for justification of their anonymous colleague's behavior, even if there seems to be grounds for concern.)
The Kli Yakar himself served as dayan, yet he insists on holding dayanim up to a very high standard throughout his commentary on the Chumash.
No compromises, no exceptions.
So keep that in mind, fellow warriors!
Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim of Luntschitz (1550-1619) lived in Bohemia (which is today Poland and Czechoslovakia). He served as rabbi and dayan and wrote several books, the most well-known being his commentary on the Chumash known as the Kli Yakar.
This is my own translation and any errors are also mine.