For Tuesday, 2 Adar II, 5771


Negative Commandment 279 (Digest)
Pity for One who Murdered or Maimed

The 279th prohibition is that a judge is forbidden from having pity on a murderer, or on having a person who caused someone loss of limb to pay the penalty. He should not say, “This person is poor, and he cut off the other person’s hand or blinded his eye unintentionally,” and therefore out of pity be lenient regarding the full payment of damages.

The source of this prohibition is G‑d’s statement,1 “Do not have pity in such a case, [since you must take] a life for a life, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, and a foot for a foot.” This prohibition is repeated in the verse,2 “Do not have pity on the [killer], and rid Israel of [those who shed] innocent blood.”

FOOTNOTES
1. Deut. 19:21.
2. Ibid., 19:13.

 

Negative Commandment 277 (Digest)
Favoring an Indigent Defendant

 

 

The 277th prohibition is that a judge is forbidden from having pity on a poor person by favoring him unjustly in judgment. He must rather treat the rich and poor equally, and require them to pay whatever the judgment is.1

The source of this prohibition is G‑d’s statement,2 “Do not favor [even] the poorest man in his lawsuit.” This prohibition is repeated in the verse,3 “Do not give special consideration to the poor.”

The Sifra4 says, “He should not say, ‘He is poor, and since both I and the rich litigant are required to support him, I will rule in his favor, and he will be supported in an honorable way.’ The Torah therefore says, ‘Do not give special consideration to the poor.’ ” 

FOOTNOTES
1. See Kapach, 5731, footnote 75.
2. Ex. 23:3.
3. Lev. 19:15.
4. Kedoshim 4:2.

 

Negative Commandment 275 (Digest)
Favoring a Litigant

 

The 275th prohibition is that a judge is forbidden from favoring one of the litigants during a trial. Even if he is very important and distinguished, he shall not accord him any honor when he comes to court with the other litigant, and not show him any special respect.

The source of this prohibition is G‑d’s statement1 (exalted be He), “Do not show respect to the great.”

The Sifra2 says, “One should not think, ‘He is wealthy and from a distinguished family — how can I embarrass him and witness his shame?’ Certainly [one who thinks this way] will not shame him. The Torah therefore says, ‘Do not show respect to the great.’ ”

The details of this mitzvah are explained in many passages in tractates Sanhedrin and Shavuos.3

FOOTNOTES
1. Lev. 19:15.
2. [Kedoshim 4:3.
3. 30a.

 

Negative Commandment 278 (Digest)
Condemning an Evil Litigant

 

 

The 278th prohibition is that a judge is forbidden from tilting judgment against one of the litigants whom he knows to be a wicked transgressor. G‑d (exalted be He), prohibits punishing him by ignoring his merits.1

The source of this prohibition is G‑d’s statement2 (exalted be He), “Do not pervert justice against a poor person in his lawsuit.”

The Mechilta3 says, “If a wicked man and an honest man stand before him in judgment, he should not say, ‘Since he is wicked, I will rule against him.’ The Torah therefore says, ‘Do not pervert justice against a poor person in his lawsuit,’ referring to someone who is ‘poor’ in mitzvos.” This means that although he is “poor” in mitzvos, one should not tilt the judgment against him.

 

FOOTNOTES
1. See Kapach, 5731, footnote 78, that the Rav Kook edition writes ivus hadin instead of ibud z’chuso. Chavel translates, “wresting judgment.”
2. Ex. 23:6.
3. Ibid.

 

Negative Commandment 273 (Digest)
Dispensing Proper Justice

“You shall do no unrighteousness in judgment”—Leviticus 19:15.

A judge is forbidden from distorting justice; he may not deviate from the Torah law regarding a case’s verdict.

 

“You shall not pervert the judgment of the impoverished in his cause”—Exodus 23:6.

A judge is enjoined not to rule against a litigant due to the fact that he is known to be an evil sinner. In the words of our Sages, “An upright person and an evil person are standing before you in trial. You may not say, ‘Since he is evil, I will rule against him.'”

(The Sages understand the word “impoverished” in the afore-cited verse as meaning “impoverished in good deeds.”)

 

“You shall not honor an important person”—Leviticus 19:15.

A judge may not show favoritism to one of the litigants in the course of a trial, even if that individual is a highly respected and great person. The judge may not accord him honor or demonstrate any sign of favoritism whatsoever.

 

“You shall not favor a poor man in his cause”—Exodus 23:3.

A judge may not have mercy on an indigent litigant and improperly rule in his favor. The judge may not think, “This litigant is poor, and both the rich person [who is suing him] and I are commanded to provide for his sustenance. I will therefore rule in his favor and he will thus have his needs met in an honorable fashion.”

Rather, a judge may not differentiate between the wealthy and the destitute, and if the law calls for it, he must find the poor person guilty and require him to pay that which he owes.

 

“And your eye shall not have pity”—Deuteronomy 19:21.

A judge may not have pity and show leniency on one who murdered or maimed another. He may not say, “This poor person unintentionally amputated his fellow’s arm, or knocked out his eye,” and then show leniency with regards to the requisite restitution. [And similarly with regards to showing mercy in a capital case.]

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: