Torah Tidbits

27 August 2014 / 1 Elul 5774
Issue 1033
Shabbat Parshat Mishpatim
February 07, 2013

Portion of the Portion

Maintaining Justice in Law Courts

In 1958, the foundation stone was laid for Israel’s Knesset building in Jerusalem. The Knesset is composed of 120 elected members as the democratic representatives, of the people.  It is named after the same sized Great Assembly (Knesset HaGedola) that served as the rabbinical body during the Second Temple era and was composed exclusively of the most learned sages of that age. Wouldn’t it be nice if Israel’s 19th Knesset that will be inaugurated soon will have leaders of such caliber as those of the original Knesset HaGedola. The Great Assembly was the Sanhedrin (Jewish religious law court) of its generation.
In this week’s portion of Mishpatim there are laws (23:1-3) relating to the Jewish court. The rules laid down in these verses make it incumbent on the court to adopt procedures that will ensure, as far as possible, that it will not give wrong decisions, in order that justice can be upheld. The verses deal accordingly with the processes of the law in all its stages. (1) Noting the facts of a case by the declaration of the parties or of witnesses; (2) arriving at and pronouncing the verdict; and (3) treatment of the litigants.
Some of the laws enumerated:
LO TISA SHEMA SHAV - Do not accept a false report - which prohibits the courts from accepting illegal testimony, specifically when the defendant or opposing party is not present (23:1).
AL TASHET YADCHA IM RASHA LIHYOT EID CHAMAS - Do not join forces with a wicked person to be a corrupt witness - Since two wit- nesses are always needed and a wicked person is not a valid witness, it is forbidden to join with him to make a pair (23:1).
LO TIHYEH ACHAREI RABIM L’RA-OT - Do not follow the majority to do evil (23:2). Do not follow a majority of one to impose a death penalty.
LO TA’ANEH AL RIV LINTOT - Do not speak up in a trial to pervert justice - Do not speak up in a trial to bend yourself and change your mind about your verdict to follow the consensus .
V’DAL LO TEHDAR B’RIVO - Do not favor even the poorest man in his lawsuit (23:3). Outside the court of law nothing could be a greater mitzva than giving special attention and care to the impoverished person. But when he stands before you in a lawsuit with an opponent, both must be treated exactly alike.
May we be worthy of having a legal and judicial system that is truly based on justice and G-d’s Torah.
COURT BOUILLON is a flavored liquid for poaching or quick-cooking foods. Court bouillon comes from the French word (court = short) and loosely translates as ‘briefly boiled liquid’ or “short broth”, because the cooking time is brief in comparison with a rich and complex stock, and generally is not served as part of the finished dish. Since delicate foods do not cook for very long, it is prepared before the foods are added. Typically, cooking times do not exceed 60 minutes. Although in this recipe the word court means short - it is spelled like the English word court - where judgments are made, which is what we were discussing in the portion so I have included it as the recipe this week.

1 carrot, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1 bay leaf
4 black peppercorns, slightly crushed
2 sprigs fresh parsley
1 tsp salt
3 cups water
6 sm. salmon steaks, about 1” thick

1 cup mayonnaise (lowfat)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Dash of Tabasco sauce

To make the bouillon, mix the first eight ingredients and bring to a boil.  Simmer, covered for 30 minutes. Remove vegetables, lemon and bay leaf. Simmer salmon steaks in court bouillon covered for 8 minutes or until salmon flakes easily with a fork. Mix sauce ingredients together. Serve with salmon steaks (hot, room temperature, or chilled).

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