ושפטו את העם משפט צדק
In this week’s Parsha, Parshas Shoftim, it says: “ושפטו את העם משפט צדק” a healthy society must have a functioning court system.”
Reb Yehoshua Mendel Ehrnberg zt’’l was a pious Rav and Av Beis Din – the head of the Jewish courts in Tel Aviv. He specialized in gittin – divorce cases. He was renowned for ruling with his keen wisdom and siyatta dishmaya – divine assistance.
An unorthodox couple once approached Reb Yehoshua Mendel to Halachically arrange their divorce to obtain a “Teudas Gerishin” – a legal document required by Israel law stating that they’re divorced.
Reb Yeshua Mendel listened to both allegations and started filling out the forms but did not complete all the required sections. He then sent the couple home. The impatient couple returned to Beis Din a few times to inquire about their document’s progress. But each time, Reb Yeshua Mendel seemed to delay the process.
One day, the irritated husband started making a commotion in court, why the process was taking so long. Reb Yeshua Mendel’s secretary informed him that the Rav was spending endless hours delving into their specific case.
The man requested to accost Reb Yeshua Mendel directly. However, before venting his frustration, Reb Yeshua Mendel asked him: “Tell me, my friend, is this your wife?”
The supposed husband started stammering: “How do you know she’s not my wife? I want to marry her but her husband refuses to give a get-divorce, so I pretended to be her real husband and requested a legal divorce document in his place so that I can legally marry her.”
Reb Yeshua Mendel’s secretary later asked him: “How did you know he wasn’t her real husband?”
Reb Yeshua Mendel answered: “The pretend couple used to come with a dog, and I noticed that the dog only attached himself to the woman. The dog followed her if she left the room but never went to the man. So I figured it must be that the man and woman don’t live together. That’s how I dared confront the man and based on his reaction, I’ll learn the truth.”
(story adapted from Sefer Pe’aros)