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Must Governments Appoint Judges and Law-Enforcement Officers?

By Rabbi Dr Michael Schulman

Illustration by Chabad.org


A government is obligated to appoint worthy judges and officers to faithfully enforce the laws and settle legal disputes.


Sometimes a strong-willed person without knowledge, qualifications and temperament to judge, rises up on his own and starts forcing his opinions and decisions on other people. That does not fulfill the commandment for judgments. Instead, it can lead to theft, murder, corruption and either societal chaos or brutal dictatorship.


Those kinds of  conditions are in direct opposition to Isaiah 45:18 – “Thus says G-d, Creator of the heavens: [the verse digresses and explains, who is G-d?] He is the G-d, the One Who fashioned the earth and its Maker; He established it, He did not create it for chaos, He fashioned it to be settled: [and now the verse goes on tell that G-d says,] I am G-d and there is no other.” So we see that G-d associates His Own Self, and His purpose in making the universe, with the goal that there should be settled societies of human beings filling this world. This Divine goal is not achieved without smoothly functioning systems of fair and justice in every society. Obviously, the justice administered needs to be in accordance with G-d’s will.


The Noahide Code does not specify in detail all the standards of justice and judging that Gentile courts must abide by. Instead, G-d’s standards for Jewish courts and judges are specified in the Torah in great detail. The aspects of those standards that are logically necessary are also obligatory for the Gentile courts. Societies in the last few centuries have thrown off absolute monarchs and dictatorships, and established free societies. Almost all of those societies looked to the Hebrew Bible for guidance in setting standards of justice for their courts.


This especially applies to the process of appointing judges.


Citizens who live in democratic societies usually have some responsibility for the appointment of judges. In some countries, the judges at some levels are elected by the people. In other countries, the people elect government officials or ruling parties that appoint the judges. Therefore, it is extremely important to seek the election or appointment of judges who uphold Torah-based values. They should lean closer than most of the other judges to upholding the precepts and principles of the Noahide Code. Those conservative judges may be the last line of defense against total takeover of the government by radical factions.


Nevertheless, we must remember that conservative values are not the only thing that we need to look for in our judges. The Torah tradition demands considerably higher than average standards for judges. This is in line with Deut. 16:20, “Justice, justice you shall pursue!” In the words of the sage Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel in Ethics of the Fathers 1:18, “The world endures by virtue of three things – justice, truth and peace, as it is stated [Zechariah 8:16], “Administer truth and the judgment of peace in your gates.”


See our new course Choshen-Mishpat I on Laws and Courts for Noahides.



By Rabbi Dr. Michael Schulman, Executive Director of Ask Noah International

First Part Delivered as a talk at the 4th International Noahide Conference, Jerusalem, Israel, 5779 / 20’19 [1] the original article can be found here.


Brought by Rabbi Moshe Perets 

 
Rabbi Moshe Perets, Noahide Academy of Israel
Rabbi Moshe Perets

Rabbi Moshe Perets is the President of the Noahide Academy of Israel, Founder and Executive Director of NoahideAcademy.org, the world’s largest Noahide informational website. He accomplished his Rabbinical Studies at the Chabad Yeshiva and his medical studies at the University of Louvain in Brussels, Belgium.


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