Why justice?

jewish paper cut art justice in torah justice justice shall you pursue paper cut art tzedek tzedek tirdof

Justice, justiceMuch has been written about the phrase in Torah, "Justice, justice shall you pursue." Most teachings and midrashim focus on why the word for justice ~ tzedek ~ is written twice. But what about the rest of the verse (Deuteronomy 16:20)? "...that you may thrive and occupy the land the Lord your G-d is giving you." That you may THRIVE. How does justice, in a biblical definition or otherwise, cause thriving?

Take the much-discussed "eye-for-an-eye" law in Torah. Punishing someone for taking something, by taking the same from him, might be considered just, or fair. But even (or maybe especially) the rabbis of the Talmud had some real issues with the law. The same rabbis believed that the Torah doesn't make mistakes, yet they debated at length whether the law meant what it seemed to mean. What if the taking of the eye was an accident? What would be served by adding to the violence? Might not a monetary settlement be a better solution for all involved? 

Doing justice isn't always easy or clear-cut. Maybe the repetition of tzedek is to remind us to think twice before deciding what is the best path to justice, or to weigh what is "fair" with what is merciful. 

Ken y'hi ratzon...

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