Hebrew | Francais


> > Archive

Shabbat Parashat Vaetchanan 5776

Parashat Hashavua: A Great Nation with Laws, Statutes and Charity

Harav Yosef Carmel

The Torah says in our parasha: “Who is a nation that has righteous laws and statutes (chukim u’mishpatim tsaddikim)” (Devarim 4:8). The combination of laws and statutes is a common one in Tanach, and on the level of p’shat (which by no means limits the ability to derive other concepts from these terms), these refer to the judicial system. Chok and mishpat are the basis of any national society, certainly of an independent Nation of Israel living in its own Land. Therefore, right after Bnei Yisrael left Egypt, we find: “… there He gave them chok and mishpat, and there He tested them (nisahu)” (Shemot 15:25). Bnei Yisrael accepted upon themselves to live as an orderly society, which turned them from a group of slaves to a proper nation, which passed tests and is fit to be shown off like a banner (in accordance with two meanings of the word nes). However, what is the significance of the adjective tzaddikim (from the root of tzedek (justice) but also tzedaka (charity)? This connects us to other important declarations of the Torah.

One is about Avraham: “Avraham will become a great nation … they will follow the path of Hashem to do tzedaka and mishpat …” (Bereishit 18:18-19). The other describes the ways of King David: “David ruled over all of Israel, and David would do mishpat and tzedaka for his entire nation” (Shmuel II, 8:15). It is no surprise that Chazal tell us that the path to true liberation passes through the fixing of the judicial system. This is in line with the p’sukim that end last week’s haftara: “I shall return your judges as in the beginning and your advisors as it was originally, after which you will be called the city of justice, the reliable town. Zion will be redeemed with mishpat and its returnees with tzedaka (Yeshaya 1:26-27).

The idea of a judicial system is that it must give equality – the laws apply to all and everyone is equally responsible for these laws. The Rambam and many other great decisors have codified these concepts, and it actually is a universally accepted concept. For this reason, our dedication to the principles of justice is “our wisdom and insight in the eyes of the nations” (see Devarim 4:6) and the source of our being the “source of blessing for all the nations of the land” (see Bereishit 18:18). 

The uniqueness of Avraham, Moshe, and David was in the incorporation of the “softer element” of tzedaka into the ostensibly rigid apparatus of chok and mishpat. The need for a mixture between the two seemingly non-intersecting worlds is a difficult challenge which requires much work to wisely implement. For many years, the Jewish judicial apparatus on a national level was an idea that seemed reserved for the times of Mashiach. While there were always batei din, the ability to have them shape society and be enforceable was limited, and few dealt with it holistically. With Hashem’s kindness, our generation has seen a wonderful change, which enables us to deal with and implement monetary Torah laws in daily life.

We at Eretz Hemdah continue to strive to produce a generation of talmidei chachamim, with great Torah knowledge, who know how to implement mishpat and tzedaka in our network of batei din.

Top of page
Print this page
Send to friend


Refuah Sheleymah to

Elchanan ben Adina

Orit bat Miriam

Hemdat Yamim

is dedicated

to the memory of:

those who fell

in the war

for our homeland.

R' Eliyahu Carmel,

Rav Carmel's father,

who passed away on

8th of Iyar 5776

Yechezkel Tzadik,

Yaffa's father,

who passed away on

11th of Iyar 5776


Gital Gila

bat Eliyahu Michael a”h

on the occasion

of her yahrzeit, Av 21st



Yitzchak Eizik

ben Yehuda Leib Usdan a"h,

whose Yahrtzeit

is the 29th of Av

Mrs. Sara Wengrowsky

bat R’ Moshe Zev a”h.

who passed away on

10 Tamuz, 5774

Rabbi Reuven Aberman


Eretz Hemdah's

beloved friend and

Member of Eretz Hemdah's Amutah
who passed away

on 9 Tishrei, 5776

R' Meir

Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld


R ' Yaakov ben Abraham & Aisha


Chana bat Yaish & Simcha

Sebbag, z"l

Hemdat Yamim

is endowed by

Les & Ethel Sutker

of Chicago, Illinois
in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker

Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l


site by entry.
Eretz Hemdah - Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies, Jerusalem All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy. | Terms of Use.