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The Systems of the Jewish Year

The Hearts Judgement

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

There are a few things in the Mishkan and in the Beit HaMikdosh that were Tamid or constant.

Ner Tamid = There was always a fire burning.
Korban Tamid - There was a sacrifice offered daily

and then a third which is not usually on the list.

“And Aaron shall bear the judgement of the Children of Israel on his heart constantly before Hashem.” (Shmos and 28;30)

Aaron wore a breastplate, a Choshen Mishpat, right over his heart. It was also a constant.

It’s curious that Aaron, who was not in the judgement department, wore a “Breastplate of Judgement”.

It would seem to be more appropriate for Moses who received the “Law” and adjudicated it.

It is also interesting that he wore it on his heart - Why on his heart when the obvious seat of judgement is in the mind?

When Moshe was asked by G-d to go to Egypt and lead them to freedom, Moshe hesitated. ‘I have an older brother; he is a known leader; he will feel bad for being skipped over as leader of the Jews!”

G-d assured him that he needn’t worry about Aaron. “He will see you and be happy for you in his heart.” Indeed Aaron rejoiced at the appointment of his younger brother Moshe.

“Because he rejoiced in his heart; he merited wearing the breastplate on his heart constantly.” (Talmud Shabbos 139)

The translation of the word Choshen is a conversation of the commentaries. I’m fascinated by the comment of the Netziv, that the root word is “Chash” or to feel.

Indeed it was the department of Moshe to adjudicate the law (Mishpat); but it was the job of Aaron to feel that law. “Choshen Mishpat”. In other words there was a second test for all the judgements of Moshe and his courts. Does it “feel” right? Does it have compassion? Does it take into account the suffering and the pain? There must be Mishpat; but that Mishpat must also have a heart.

Rashi tells us that the “Choshen Mishpat” was worn to atone for the corruption of Law. The heart is the final check of the law. We must be a just people; we must be a heartfelt people.

We are told that we lose our Jewish status as a ‘light to the Nations’ when find our words only in Din. שהעמידו דבריהם על דין תורה.

As the attribute of kindness requires the framework of justice, so too does the attribute of justice require the “Choshen” and the constant engagement of the heart of Aaron.

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