Translation:Arukh ha-Shulchan/Choshen Mishpat/10
One should be deliberate in judgment, as the Rabbis expounded from the verse “Learn to do good, seek justice, relieve (lit. related to ‘praised’ in Hebrew) the oppressed (lit. ‘soured’ or ‘fermented’), perform justice for the orphan and plead the case of the widow.” (Yeshaya 1.17), which they have taken to mean praised is the judge who allows his deliberations to ‘ferment’. Furthering the analogy, just as dough that has not fermented well will not produce quality bread, so to a rushed deliberation will not produce correct results. Likewise, just like over-fermented dough will not produce good bread, deliberations extended past their need will also not produce a quality verdict. Once the matter has been clarified sufficiently, the verdict should proclaimed at once [IS THIS CORRECT?]. On the other hand, a judge with an arrogant heart, who rushes to judgment without properly considering a case until it is as clear as the sun is a fool, wicked, and arrogant: A fool, because he believes himself to be a sage while he remains in his ignorance; wicked, because he is corrupting the proper ruling; and arrogant, since he feels that a man such as himself has no need to deliberate.
If a case comes before him that appears similar to a previous case that he had heard, where he had ruled according to the direction of another scholar, he should not be quick to apply the same ruling. If there is another in the city who is greater than him in knowledge, he should consult his opinion, for the case may not be same in its particulars. One who does not behave in this way is irresponsible, and also included among the “arrogant of heart”. This applies to ritual law as well as civil law [Urim v’Tumim, u3].
“She has cast down many wounded…”(Mishlei 7.26) – This refers to a torah scholar who has not reached the level of expertise required to be appointed a judge yet nevertheless judges cases. He is as an infant who has not passed the month to be considered viable [OR PERHAPS A PRE-MATURE INFANT?], as he has not reached the skill level needed for the position.
“…many strong men have been slain by her.” (Mishlei 7.26) – This is one who has the expertise to be a judge but refuses, closing his eyes to the community’s needs. He causes damage to his generation (LIT. causes the men of his generation to die]. This only applies to one who is needed by his generation. If, however, there are others who can also fill the position, he is praiseworthy to refuse to act as judge. In fact, any judge who chooses to pursue compromise between the parties instead of acting as judge will benefit himself, as he prevents others from having enmity against him, as well as avoiding the possibility of false oaths and the misappropriation of funds arising from incorrect rulings. Even if the law in a given case is as clear as the sun, it is always preferable to strive to have all parties reach an out-of-court settlement.
A case involving a miniscule amount should be taken as seriously as one involving large sum, and the advice to remove oneself from judging applies equally to cases involving small and large amounts [Turi Zahav, siman 10]. In chapter 15 the rules of precedence in processing cases will be discussed.
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