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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Choshen Mishpat

Rav Yosef Carmel points out an intersting Kli Yakar. The Choshen or breastplate that the high priest used to wear is said by the gemara (Archin 16a) to atone for the sin of incorrect judgment. The Kli Yakar says on this (Shemot 28:15):

וחושן הבא לכפר על קלקול הדינין, כי הדינין הם דברים המסורים אל לב הדיין. כי אין לדיין אלא מה שעיניו רואות ובידו לומר על ימין שהוא שמאל ועל שמאל שהוא ימין…ואם אמר יאמר הדיין כך היה נראה בעיני מי יוכל להכחישו בלתי ד' לבדו הבוחן לבות בני האדם

The choshen comes to atone for incorrect judgments, [this is] because judgment is something that is given over to the heart of the judge. For the judge only has what his eyes see and it is in his hands to say that right is left and left is right ... And if the judge would say 'this is how it seems to me', no one would be able to dispute him except for Hashem alone Who inspects the heart of man.

This is an important lesson - not just regarding judgment but also for proper ahavat Yisrael. Often times when we argue for what we feel is the Truth of the Torah - we get emotionally invested in our own position - this is a good thing for one SHOULD be passionate about the Torah of Hashem. However, we should never forget that there is a subjective component to any learning and judgment that we display. We are all human and thus understand what we learn based on our experiences and our general knowledge base. The person on the other side of the debate often has eyes that see things differently and thus may come to very different conclusions. We must always be careful to separate our fight for Truth from any hint of personal pride. An idea argued by another Jew, for the sake of Heaven, based on their best understanding of the Torah has intrinsic worth even if we feel that the opponent’s particular position is totally against the will of Hashem.