Striving For Justice - Shoftim

Immediately after stating the importance of a vital and dynamic legal system the Torah states the following: צדק צדק תרדוף למען תחיה וירשת את הארץ. Meaning that in order to inherit the promised land, one should seek justice. חז"ל were fascinated with the duplication of the word צדק therefore we can find numerous drashot on this phrase. In general חז"ל understood that this duplication is pointing to a constant search for an underlying truth.

רש"י ,for example, explains the duplication as a demand to make a bigger effort to seek justice, such as seeking a better בית דין to go to. הספורנו , on the other hand, focuses on the type of men appointed as judges, that they must be the best people. In the gemara we can find a third interpretation. The gemara learns from the duplication that if a judge sees that by the common rules of judgment the conclusion of the case will be legally right but false in any other means he should break or bend the rules in order to get to the real truth.

These three interpretations, and many others, teach us that we cannot fool ourselves when dealing with justice. If we really want to maintain a rich and good life we should constantly try to achieve it by doing whatever it takes to get to the real truth.

When thinking about the idea of teshuva one can think, quite similar to צדק, that there is a bottom line or maybe a dead end. Meaning that there is a limit or specific goal one should achieve when making teshuva, that beyond it you can quit by saying ‘I did enough’. But maybe we can learn from the new understanding of צדק that there should be no finish line when we are doing teshuva. We should continue to strive to be better.

Rav Tzadok HaCohen of Lublin (one of the greatest chassidic teachers) explained one of the most difficult statements on teshuva with this approach. The gemara says that when someone is doing teshuva, he should focus not only what he’s done wrong during this year, but also throughout the previous years. This statement is very confusing. If I already did teshuva last year, why am I supposed to deal with those things again? Haven’t they been dealt with already?

Rav Tzadok teaches that we should confess again and again, year after year because every year we go higher and higher. Every year we work on ourselves and we understand things much more deeply. There is no end when working on becoming more kind and spiritual. Therefore we must confess over and over again, constantly trying to do better.

It seems, that the path to צדק and teshuva are well connected. It never ends, until we hopefully achieve the main goal of 'ציון במפט תיפדה ושביה בצדקה'.

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