Portion Yitro: Jethro Jews and Justice

Portion Yitro: Jethro Jews and Justice
In a nutshell - this week's portion is jam packed with great ideas - and BIG questions!

Jethro the Gentile comes to Moses (at the beginning of the portion)
and the Israelites in the desert - and sets up the Jewish Court System!
(Yesterday in my Maimonides class the lecturer taught about the process of:
SELECTING QUALIFIED JUDGES - a BIG problem here in Israel-
and an interesting concept was Maimonides' "Three Year Probationary Period"!)
The Big Jewish Question Is of course : "Is Justice objective or subjective?"
Depends - sadly - on the judge; we all have a LOT to learn from Maimonides,
not just medicine!
So the portion ends with "Build me an ALTAR of EARTH (not stones! not cement!). (in the Temple)

Down to Earth - not egocentric! And So:

For one thing the Mizbayach ... the altar   ....  symbolizes PEACE on High and on EARTH.
Elsewhere the Torah relates the altar to JUDGMENT -
and the High Court sat in a chamber  near the Altar!
SO - Which is the Basic Functionality?  Peace here on earth - or Almighty (strict) Justice?

The First Rule in Jewish Law - which Jethro the Judge (in Midian) did NOT get into

is Arbitration to Make Peace after listening to both sides.  You need to be a wise and a fair judge to do that!

Let's Pray on that this Shabbat - and may we see that more often than not!
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz