שופטים

One of the first topics discussed in this week’s parsha is what is to be done to individuals who worship other deities (17:2-7).  The verse that discusses ascertaining that the accused is in fact worshiping another deity states: “And it was spoken to you [that an individual has transgressed the second commandment], and you listened and investigated thoroughly, and behold it was true and right; this abomination was committed in Israel” (17:4, all translations mine).  This is quite similar, especially in the Hebrew, to the verse discussing the rebellious city that is to be destroyed which was discussed in last week’s parsha, which states: “And you shall investigate and inquire and ask thoroughly, and behold it was true and right; this abomination was committed in your midst” (13:15).  What do these two sins have in common?  It appears to me that, since neither includes any recognizable change in an individual or a city, rather both signify a change in attitude, the Torah was conscious of the risk of false accusations and sought to limit this possibility.  Not only do all capital cases need to be judged by two witnesses (17:6), but these two sins especially must be verified through a more elaborate system of checks and balances.

Careful to avoid

Falsely accusing sinners

Due to jealousy

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