August 17, 2023 / 23 Menachem-Av, 5783 • Parshat Shoftim
Issue 782
Dedicated in loving memory of Mrs. Miriam Friedman

Justice, justice, must you pursue, in order that you live and take possession of the land that G-d, your G-d, is giving you. 

Deut. 16:20

When we see something amiss in the behavior of other people, we are naturally inclined to help those similar to us, whether in intelligence, shared values, or socio-economic standing. In contrast, when it comes to people higher on these ladders than we are, we tend to imagine that we have nothing to offer them. Conversely, when confronted with people lower on these ladders than we are, we might think that they are beyond help, that it is a waste of time to try to improve their lot.

The Torah therefore tells us to pursue justice twice, in order to emphasize that in addition to helping those similar to us, we must also help those who seem “higher” or “lower” than us – even though it may seem irrelevant or even a waste of time.

Each of us possesses unique talents and gifts, and on account of these unique gifts, we all have something to offer everyone. The fact that Divine providence has presented us with the opportunity to help another person is the surest proof that we possess the means to do so effectively.