Shoftim

The world owes its conception of justice to the principles enunciated in this Sedra. Likewise there could hardly be a stronger condemnation of bribery, the evils of which the world acknowledges, but which is so widespread that in many countries it is tolerated as the lubricant of the economy.

Bribery is known in Hebrew as “shachad”, an obviously foreign word, according to Rabbi Pinchas Peli. It could be related to the Assyrian word meaning “gift”, or to the Aramaic word meaning to take hold or to grab. Peli writes that bribery undermines one of the basic foundations of human existence, that there is only one humanity and we are entitled to stand as equals before the law,

G-d himself is praised, Deuteronomy 10-17, as one who would not take bribes.

According to Peli , the penal code of the modern state of Israel concerning bribery was guided by the traditional Jewish sources. Both the taker and the donor of bribes are equally punishable. Demanding a bribe is tantamount to taking it or promising one to giving it.

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