Haftarah: "Zion will be Redeemed through Mishpat and those who Return to it through Tzedaka"

Haftarah: "Zion will be Redeemed through Mishpat and those who Return to it through Tzedaka"

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By: Rav Avraham Rivlin

(Translated by Rav Meir Orlian)

When describing the moral deterioration of the kingdom of Judah, Yeshaya laments: "How the faithful city has become a harlot! - she had been full of mishpat (justice), tzedek (righteousness) lodged in her, but now murderers!" (1:21) However, the prophet promises that in the future, G-d will take vengeance from His enemies, refine the government, and remove all the bad impurities: "Then I will restore your judges as at first, and your counselors as at the beginning; after that you will be called 'City of Rightousness,' 'Faithful city.'" (1:26) Yeshaya concludes will the uplifting call: "Zion will be redeemed through mishpat and those who return to it through tzedaka." (1:27)

The expressions mishpat (justice) and tzedaka (righteousness) appear in the section a few times. Throughout the Tanach the combination "mishpat u'tzedaka," is commonly found, and less so, "tzedaka u'mishpat." We will address the difference between mishpat and tzedaka and their appropriateness to the other expressions in the concluding verse.

The simple explanation of the words indicates that the difference between mishpat and tzedaka is between the letter of the law [=mishpat] and what is beyond the letter of the law [=tzedaka]; between what a person in entitled to by law and what is given to him as a gift of kindness. This emerges from the passage in the Gemara regarding compromise. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 6a) expounds what is said about David, "David administered justice and kindness to his entire people" (Shmuel II 8:15), as follows:

Wherever there is mishpat there is not tzedaka, and tzedaka there is not mishpat?! Rather, what is mishpat that has tzedaka? This is compromise. The following statement goes according to tanna kama [who maintains that one should not compromise]: When the judge judged the case, acquitted the innocent one, and obligated the guilty, and saw that a poor person was obligated in money and paid him from his pocket, this is mishpat and tzedaka; mishpat for this one and tzedaka for this one. Mishpat for this one - that he returned money to him, and tzedaka for this one - that he paid him from his pocket.

From this we see that tzedaka is greater that mishpat, in that mishpat is the negation of evil and correction of injustice, whereas tzedaka is a building of chesed in a positive manner. Therefore, tzedaka is more powerful that mishpat. Therefore, the verse emphasizes that "Zion will be redeemed through mishpat" and "its returnees through tzedaka." Mishpat has the power to save those who are found in Zion, but the exiles who from far away aspire to return to Zion, require a greater merit - that of tzedaka.

The Malbim has another approach in explaining the difference between mishpat and tzedaka, and thus an entirely different explanation of the verse. The Malbim writes (words 1:27): "'Tzedaka and mishpat' that are synonymous in the Tanach, tzedaka relates to between man and G-d and mishpat between man and his friend, as it says, "He carried out Hashem's tzedaka and His mishpat with Israel." (Devarim 33:21) Even though tzedaka is done with another person, it is also a fulfillment of a mitzvah between man and G-d, and doing mishpat is a fulfillment between man and his friend alone. Mishpat is practiced also in atheistic countries, whereas tzedaka is a religious obligation, even though its practical fulfillment is between man and his friend.

Therefore, the Malbim explains (1:27):

Most of the rebuke that [Yeshaya] gave from the beginning of the Sefer until v. 21, which is the prophecy designated for the tribe of Judah, was about actions between man and G-d, about the sacrifices, repentance and prayer. Most of the rebuke from the verse, "How the faithful city has become a harlot!" until here are about issues between man and his friend - forgery and overcharging and tilting of mishpat. [This is] because among the people of Judah who lived outside of Yerushalayim sins between man and G-d were more common. In the capitol city, Yerushalayim, sins between man and his friend were more common, because of all the commerce in it. The prophet concludes his words now saying that each one - with what he sinned - his rectification should be within it. Zion, the capitol city, whose sin was that she was unjust - will be redeemed with mishpat." When she returns to do justice she will find redemption and salvation. "And its returnees" - the tribe of Judah who will return to Zion from the exile, whose sin is in that they were unjust between man and G-d - they will be redeemed through tzedaka, by acting righteously towards their Master and Creator.

The common denominator between the Gemara's explanation and that of the Malbim is that the verse comes to teach the way of repentance, in what merit Zion and its returnees will be redeemed. The GR"A understands the verse differently. He explains that Zion will truly deserve redemption because "She has received double for all her sins from the hand of Hashem." However, her returnees, i.e. those who return to Zion, who repented, will be redeemed through tzedaka and not through mishpat, as it says, "They asked the wise and the prophets, the person who sins..." Tzedaka, according to the explanation of the GR"A is not the righteousness of the returnees who will be redeemed in her merit, but the tzedaka of Hashem who will redeem the returnees despite the fact that they are guilty in judgment.

In a different vein, the Da'at Miqra explains: "Zion will be redeemed because of the justice. I.e., so that justice will be done in it. I.e., after Zion will be saved from its enemies, tzedek and mishpat will reign in it. 'And its returnees with tzedaka' ... in order that from now on they will act with a manner of tzedaka." Mishpat and tzedaka do not describe the cause for redemption, but rather its goal.

Either way, the redemption of Israel is bound in mishpat and tzedaka, and then: "After that you will be called 'City of righteousness.'" (1:26)

Shiur ID: 3840

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