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Divrei Torah on the weekly portions

Devarim: Shoftim


Righteousness, righteousness (TZedek TZedek) you shall pursue, so that you will live and possess the land which Hashem your God gives you” (Devarim 16:20).

Rabbi Noach Mindes asks why does the Torah utilise the double expression “TZedek TZedek”? Furthermore, why are the rewards for pursuing righteousness specifically that “you will live” and “possess the land”?

We read in Samuel 2 (8:15) that: “King David performed justice and righteousness (TZedakah) to all the people …”. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 6b) wonders why David performed “TZedakah to all the people”? Isn’t TZedakah only intended for the poor people?

The Gemara answers that just as a correct legal ruling is justice for the claimant, it is simultaneously TZedakah for the defendant, whom the court forced to get rid of what he stole!

Rabbi Noach Mindes therefore explains that “TZedek TZedek” refers to two types of righteousness, namely charity to the poor and claiming stolen articles from thieves.

He notes that Mishlei (10:2) states that “TZedakah saves from death”, and Yalkut (Divrei HaYamim 2, remez 1085) teaches that perversion of justice results in the punishment of exile. Hence, our verse above refers to the two types of TZedek (righteousness) and their reward. The reward “you will live” is for the TZedakah of giving charity to the poor; and the reward “possess the land” is for the TZedakah of not perverting justice, thereby averting exile.

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