“And these are the ordinances that you shall place before them (Exodus 21:1).” Immediately preceding, in the construction of the altar, the symbolic expression of the fundamental basic principle was given, that our whole relationship to God is to be taken as one through which justice and humanity for building up human society, and morality and decency for the work of each individual on himself, are to be gained and formed, on a firm unshatterable basis.
To that principle, the “and,” adds the legal laws by which the building up of Jewish society on the basis of justice and humanity is the first thing ordered. The “sword,” force and harshness are thereby to be banned from the Jewish State, only then can they be worthy to erect an altar to God in their midst. That is why these laws come before the building of the Tabernacle. (Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch)
“Restore our judges as in earliest times and our counselors as at first; remove from us sorrow and groaning; and speedily reign over us, alone, You, God, with kindness and compassion, and justify us from righteousness and judgment. Blessed art You, God, the King, Who loves righteousness and judgment.”
When we ask God to “restore our judges as in earliest times and our counselors as at first,” we are referring to the verse that opens this week’s portion. We are asking God to restore us to a state in which we are guided by those who understand that we may only properly convey the teachings of Torah with a sense of justice and humanity, morality and decency.
When we ask that God, “remove from us sorrow and groaning,” we are referring to this idea of ‘force and harshness being banned from the Jewish State.’
“Justify us from righteousness and judgment,” is our prayer that we be taught Torah in a manner that will guide us in, ‘the work of each individual on himself.’