Friday, October 22, 2010

Torah law case - Compromise or Letter of the Law?

Which laws are the benei noach obliged to judge?
The gemara says in Sanhedrin 56a:
תנו רבנן שבע מצות נצטוו בני נח דינין וברכת השם ע"ז גילוי עריות ושפיכות דמים וגזל ואבר מן החי
“The beraisa has taught; The benei noach were commanded concerning seven mitzvos; law, cursing Hashem’s name, idolatry, immorality, murder, stealing and ever min hachai.”

There is a machlokess between the Ramban and the Rambam what is required from benei noach in order to keep the mitzva of dinim. According to the Rambam, the mitzva of din for the benei noach only relates to the other 6 mitzvos of the benei noach.

The Rambam says in Hilchos Melachim (9:14):
וכיצד מצווין הן על הדינין? חייבין להושיב דיינין ושופטים בכל פלך ופלך לדון בשש מצות אלו ולהזהיר את העם
“How are the benei noach commanded concerning dinim? They are obliged to set up judges and law enforcement in every city to judge regarding the upkeep of the other six mitzvos that they have to observe and to warn the people.”

The Ramban (Bereishis 34:13) argues with the Rambam and says:
ועל דעתי, הדינין שמנו לבני נח בשבע מצות שלהם אינם להושיב דיינין בכל פלך ופלך בלבד, אבל צוה אותם בדיני גנבה ואונאה ועושק שכר שכיר ודיני השומרים  כענין הדינין שנצטוו ישראל
“My opinion is that the dinim which the benei noach were commanded are not only to setup courts in each city (to enforce the other six mitzvos benei noach), rather Hashem commanded them to observe the laws of stealing, over charging, not paying workers, guarding items and so on just like the dinim that the benei yisroel were commanded.”

According to the Ramban, the benei noach are commanded to judge all monetary laws, not just to enforce the other 6 mitzvos benei noach. The Meshech Chachmah explains that according to the Ramban, Hashem did not give the details of the dinim. He simply commanded that these should be judged in a fair and equitable manner.

Which is preferable – compromise or din?
The gemara in Sanhedrin (6a) brings a machlokess if it is ossur to compromise in a din torah or if it is a mitzva to compromise. The gemara says:
ר"א בנו של רבי יוסי הגלילי אומר אסור לבצוע וכל הבוצע ה"ז חוטא ...אלא יקוב הדין את ההר שנאמר (דברים א, יז) כי המשפט לאלקים הוא...רבי יהושע בן קרחה אומר מצוה לבצוע שנאמר (זכריה ח, טז) אמת ומשפט שלום שפטו בשעריכם והלא במקום שיש משפט אין שלום ובמקום שיש שלום אין משפט אלא איזהו משפט שיש בו שלום הוי אומר זה ביצוע..
“Rebbi Eliezer the son of Rebbi Yossi HaGlili says it is assur for the dayan to reach a compromise and anyone who makes a compromise is a choteh..rather the law should pierce the mountain as the passuk says כי המשפט לאלקים הוא – judgement belongs to Hashem.

Rebbi Yehoshua ben Karchah says it is a mitzva to compromise as the passuk says in Zecharia ‘You should judge truth and justice and peace in your gates.’ - If there is justice there is no peace (because the contending parties have not been reconciled) and in a place where there is peace there is no judgement? Rather which judgement brings peace? This is compromise.”

The Meshech Chachmah asks, if Hashem said that I love Avraham because he does justice and compromise, how can רבי אליעזר בנו של רבי יוסי הגלילי say that it is assur to compromise?

The Meshech Chachmah explains that the reason thatרבי אליעזר בנו של רבי יוסי הגלילי says that it is assur to reach a compromise is because המשפט לאלקים הוא – justice belongs to Hashem. This is true concerning the dinim of the Torah which are determined by Hashem. However, concerning the dinim of the benei noach – which are determined by society – it is better to compromise.

This is because the basis of the dinim of the benei noach is to ensure that society operates in a mutually agreeable manner. Therefore, in a case where making a compromise between the litigants will be more beneficial to society because of the ensuing peace, than imposing a strict decision, it is appropriate for the dayan to seek a compromise.

Before the Torah was given, it was a mitzvah for Avraham to judge by compromise. This is no contradiction to רבי אליעזר בנו של רבי יוסי הגלילי who says that after the Torah is given, it is assur to make a compromise.

The possuk says concerning Dovid Hamelech שמואל ב' (ח, טו) –
וַיִּמְלֹךְ דָּוִד עַל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיְהִי דָוִד עֹשֶׂה מִשְׁפָּט וּצְדָקָה לְכָל עַמּוֹ
“Dovid ruled over the whole of klal yisroel and Dovid did justice and tzedakah for all his people.”

Why is it that regarding Dovid, the passuk says first מִשְׁפָּט and then וּצְדָקָה, whereas regarding Avrohom the passuk first says צְדָקָה and then מִשְׁפָּט - וְשָׁמְרוּ דֶּרֶךְ ה' לַעֲשׂוֹת צְדָקָה וּמִשְׁפָּט ?

The Meshech Chachmah explains that for Dovid, who judged according to the Torah, it was preferable to do precise judgement (מִשְׁפָּט) before making a compromise (צְדָקָה), whereas for Avrohom who judged according to social law, it was preferable for him to arrange a compromise before imposing a strict ruling.

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