We have reached Parashah Shoftim. Every year, I express my amazement that our ancestors wrote in the Torah, “Tzedek, Tzedek tirdof [Justice, Justice you shall pursue].”
Justice is so important that we cannot passively let it come to us. Justice is so important that while we can seek peace, we must pursue justice. But why did Moses repeat the word justice?
You may remember from your Sunday school stories that Moses was “slow of speech.” He stuttered. But in this case, he did not stutter. Rather, he repeated the word “justice” deliberately.
He repeated it because, in connection with the verb pursue, he wanted the Israelites to understand that nothing was more important than justice. He repeated it because he wanted the Israelites to understand that justice for others must be accompanied by justice for ourselves. He repeated it because he wanted the Israelites to understand that justice sometimes is absolute, but justice sometimes is compromise. Mostly, however, he repeated it because he wanted the Israelites to understand that justice must be accomplished justly.