by a visiting Israeli attorney Avner H.
This week’s Torah reading of Shoftim speaks of a “Mishpat Tzedek” which translates as a just law. This implies that not all law is just, since the Torah has to emphasize that the law be just.
I remember my first year in law school when a professor explained that law is not an attempt to get at the truth or justice, but to resolve disputes and solve problems. I was quite disappointed, as from a biblical perspective I thought of law as “Mishpat Tzedek” a law that is just.
One of the ways that law can be just – is when the law isn’t applied at all. In Israel we call this “Geeshur”which turns the Hebrew word from bridge from a noun into a verb or “Psharah”, in America it is known as arbitration or compromise. This is an opportunity for the litigants to sit down with professionals to discuss their claims and grievances, and to try to work out a compromise solution that it acceptable to both parties. The Talmud says it is highly encouraged to first try a “Pshara” approach before taking it to a judge.
One reason why “Pshara” or “Geeshur” is considered a just approach, is because it makes the warring parties sit down with each other, and helps them see it from the other person’s point of view. They may or may not totally change their position, but it helps them become more open and understanding of others as long as there is a basis of mutual respect.