Donald Trump and the Biblical Definition of Justice

Donald Trump and the Biblical Definition of Justice

Donald Trump has been indicted yet again. This time, Trump is charged with the “crimes” of pressuring elected officials in Georgia to audit the November 3, 2020, election results in their state, behavior permitted by the First Amendment. The charges are absurd on their face, just as absurd as the charges in the previous indictment of President Trump by prosecutor Jack Smith, accusing Trump of the non-crime of objecting to election results on January 6th, 2020, also protected by the First Amendment.

All these phony charges are consistent with the pattern we have seen since Trump was first elected President. Trump haters are fond of reminding us of the fact that Trump was impeached twice, as though this is evidence that he is a criminal. Never mind the fact that neither impeachment led to a conviction and that both were based on falsehoods.

The first impeachment was for a call with President Zelenskyy of Ukraine, where Trump asked Zelenskyy to investigate the corruption of the Bidens. This corruption is now well known to be real, as evidenced by the now validated contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop. It appears that Trump’s crime here was that of attempting to expose the corruption of the former Vice President.

Trump’s second impeachment was for the crime of publicly objecting to election results that were rife with irregularities. Nothing in Trump’s objections was illegal. As Mike Davis of The Article III Project has put it, “Objecting to election results is a crime only in Marxist banana republics.”

Then came the raid on Trump’s home in Mar a Lago. As a former president, Trump is fully allowed to have classified documents in his possession, regardless of their contents. The Presidential Records Act allows former presidents to keep classified documents, provided they are held under secure conditions. Even if they are not properly held, the PRA contains no criminal component. The FBI raid of Trump’s home was illegal and unwarranted.

Let’s call a spade a spade. The United States of America has now joined that list of countries where opposition political leaders are harassed, indicted, silenced, and imprisoned for threatening the power of the regime. Anyone with eyes can see this. The double-standard on display in the relative treatment of Trump and the Bidens should make us all weep and mourn for the state of America.

The founders of the United States were animated by a deep faith in the values of the Bible. One of those supreme values appears in this week’s Torah portion:

Justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may thrive and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you. – Deuteronomy 16:20

The opening words of this verse “Justice, justice,” are, in Hebrew as well, the same word repeated, Tzedek tzedek. Why is this word repeated?

The word tzedek – justice, appears in the Torah both as a noun and as an adjective. Just as in English, nouns can serve as adjectives when paired with other nouns. For example, a “basketball” is a type of ball. The noun, “basket” here serves as an adjective, describing a type of ball.

The same is true of the word tzedek as it is used elsewhere in the Torah. For example,

You shall have just scales, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. – Leviticus 19:36

The Hebrew word translated here as “just,” or “honest,” is tzedek. In other words, tzedek can mean either “justice” or “just,” depending on the context.

With this in mind, I’d like to suggest that rather than simply repeating the word “justice,” Deuteronomy 16:20 should be translated as follows:

A just justice shall you pursue, that you may thrive and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you. – Deuteronomy 16:20

“A just justice”? What does this mean? Isn’t all justice “just” by definition? We can answer that question considering another verse regarding justice.

‘You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In justice you shall judge your neighbor. – Leviticus 19:15

“In justice shall you judge your neighbor.” This commandment seems superfluous. Wouldn’t anyone sitting in judgement be assumed to be judging the case justly? Is the Torah speaking to treacherous and dishonest judges, commanding them to stop being dishonest? The Talmud explains the verse as follows:

The Sages taught: The verse states: “But in justice shall you judge your colleague” (Leviticus 19:15), from which it is derived: The court must ensure that there will not be a situation where one litigant is sitting and one litigant is standing, or a situation where one litigant says everything that he needs to say to present his case and one litigant, the judge says to him: Curtail your statement. – Babylonian Talmud Shavuot 30a

As the rabbis explain, the commandment to judge everyone justly demands that there be equal justice and equal procedure under the law.

For anyone paying attention, the discrepancy between the treatment of Donald Trump and the treatment of Joe Biden and his family is clear. While there may be indictments and impeachments filled with a long list of alleged crimes, let’s make no mistake about what we are witnessing. The legal justifications for indicting Donald Trump are a perfect example of “justice” that is not “just.”

Which brings us to the end of the verse:

Justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may thrive and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you. – Deuteronomy 16:20

Here again, the Bible’s warning is all too clear. Without a “just justice” there is no basis for a thriving society, blessed by God. American freedom and justice are in peril. The situation is critical. America was founded by God-fearing people who anchored their understanding of justice, freedom, and government in the Bible. The contrived and politically motivated indictments of Donald Trump represent yet another way America is turning its back on these Biblical foundational principles.

Rabbi Pesach Wolicki serves as Executive Director of Ohr Torah Stone’s Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation and is cohost of the Shoulder to Shoulder podcast

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