The Choshen by Kevin Beckoff


Parshat Tetzaveh states (28:15): “Ve’asita Choshen Mishpat,” “And you shall make a breastplate of justice.”  Chazal explain (Zevachim 88b) that the Choshen is associated with justice because the breastplate atoned for failures of justice. The Akeidat Yitzchak adds that the Choshen relates to the four main areas that cause unethical justice. The first area is favoritism based on wealth or scholarly abilities. The Chosen served as an antidote to this by having all of the Shevatim engraved in chronological order, as opposed to ordering them by factors like size, wealth, or abundance of eminent personalities. The second case is where a judge feels the case is petty and therefore is likely to make a mistake in his judgment. In contrast, the Choshen had stones that were precious and stones that were not, but all were treated equally. The third case is when the judge is scared of one of the sides in the case. It is for this reason that the name of Hashem was etched into the stone of the Chosen, which showed that fear of Hashem should overpower all other fears. The last and most severe case is failure due to lack of knowledge. The Urim VeTumim was embedded in the Choshen to remedy this situation. When Bnei Yisrael needed an answer, they could ask a question of the Urim VeTumim and receive Hashem’s response. Today, although we do not have a Choshen, it is crucial to think about what the Choshen stood for and to make sure not to corrupt justice.

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