By Malka Touger
Negative Commandment 280
It is forbidden to pervert justice for a convert or orphan
Deuteronomy 24:17 “You shall not pervert the judgment of the stranger or the or the orphan“
A judge may not consider the sensitive nature of an orphan or “Ger” (convert to Judaism) while siting in judgment.
He must base his verdict on fact.
This Negative Mitzvah cautions the judge not to give a lenient judgment because he has consideration for the sensitive nature of the person he is judging.
Positive Commandment 177
Leviticus 19:15 “With righteousness, judge your neighbor“
In Heddy’s school, a student who is sent to the principal’s office for bad behavior, does not panic. She knows that the principal is fair.
He treats the students properly and never gives them too severe a punishment.
A Jew who is ordered to be brought before a Beit-Din was assured of fair judgment.
It was not dependent on the nature of the judge nor his mood!
The Torah commanded us to judge in a fair manner.
This is not merely a helpful suggestion or gentle prodding – it is a commandment!
The judge knows he is guided by a higher authority than his own.
Negative Commandment 276
It is forbidden to fear the threats of a man being accused in judgment
Deuteronomy 1:17 “You shall not be afraid because of any man”
This Negative Mitzvah encourages the judge to act honestly and bravely in judgment.
The Torah commands him not to fear while judging.
He should not be afraid that the accused person will do him harm or take revenge. The Torah tells us not to be frightened, but to bring about proper judgment.
Negative Commandment 274
It is forbidden to accept bribery in judgment
Exodus 23:8 “And you shall take no bribe“
Occasionally, we hear about people receiving large sums of money as bribes. Whenever a person does a nice thing for a judge so that he will and say good things about him, the Torah considers it bribery.
The Talmud relates that once a judge’s tenant brought him the rent a few days early and the judge refused to hear the case because he considered that a bribe.
The Torah gives a judge this special commandment because he is charged with declaring justice.
A judge is forbidden to accept any form of bribery, even if the bribe is offered from an innocent man and the judgment is truthful and correct.
From: my free Daily Mitzvah (Maimonides) Email Newsletter: Chabad.org