Sanhedrin 2-3 Judges – Elohim

It is interesting that the Gemara understands that when the Torah says the word elohim in reference to judges, this teaches that the judges must be מוסמכים, having received their ordination in a line going back to Moshe Rabbenu. Generally speaking, the word elohim is most interesting, in that it is the name of Hashem, while at the same time, it can refer to other powers, for example, אלהים אחרים – other gods; or, as we find here, judges. One could ask, Why are idols and the like referred to as other elohim? If anything, they should be referred to as ‘absolute nothings!’ The answer is, as the Ramchal writes, that the many different celestial beings, for example the stars, etc, are indeed invested with power. Hashem sends down his Divine influx through them, and they are thus referred to as elohim. This denotes the fact that they are rooted in Hashem’s power. When people would worship them as something separate from Hashem, as having power of their own, this was a complete severance that would eventually cause them to forget Hashem. This was the ultimate mistake of idolatry. Here, the word elohim is used to refer judges, and specifically judges with סמיכה going back to Moshe Rabbenu, because their power comes directly from Hashem. There is no severance from the source of their power. A judge that lacks this type of semicha can only be referred to as a שופט – a judge without that connection to the true Source of all power and guidance.

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