Same Law, Different Court – Parashat Mishpatim

February 4, 2018 at 2:32 AM , , ,

“….And these are the ordinances that you shall place before them…” – Shemot 21:1

וְאֵלֶּה הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים אֲשֶׁר תָּשִׂים לִפְנֵיהֶם – שמות כא, א

The Talmud (Gittin 88b) learns from this verse that our civil disputes should be judged only “before them—the Jewish courts, and not in the non-Jewish court system. This applies even in instances where the ruling of the non-Jewish court will not conflict with the law dictated by the Torah. Nevertheless, a Jew’s observance of that law must be based on it being G-d’s stated will, whereas, that same ruling in the secular courts is determined by human conventions and logic.

This idea reflects the Talmudic saying regarding the yetzer hara‘s, the evil inclination’s, method of operation: “Today he tells him, ‘Do this’; tomorrow he tells him, ‘Do that;’ until he bids him, ‘Go and serve idols,’ and he goes and serves” (Shabbos 105b).


Chassidus explains that, at first, the yetzer hara does not attempt to entice a Jew to transgress G-d’s will. On the contrary, he begins by lending credence to mitzvah observance from a rational perspective, saying, “Do this—this mitzvah is justified even by my standards.” In this way, the yetzer hara slowly penetrates his victim’s attitude toward Torah observance. Instead of being centered on obedience of G-d, the person’s observance becomes based on the degree to which he finds a particular mitzvah to be rational, and ultimately, to the extent that he finds it to be beneficial from the selfish perspective of his Animal Soul as well. Having successfully diverted the person from his focus on obeying G-d’s will and G-d’s will alone, the yetzer hara can now lure him to transgress even the harshest of sins.

This is why our civil disputes must not be brought before a secular court even when their judgment will concur with the Torah’s. In order to not fall prey to the yetzer hara‘s vices, we must be careful to not relegate the Torah’s laws to the comforts of human rationalization and convenience. Rather, we must approach all mitzvos with an attitude of kabbolas ol, obeying the mitzvos simply because G-d willed so and we are His subjects.

—Likkutei Sichos vol. 3, p. 900


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