Questions and Suggested Answers
Based on the writings of Nehama Leibowitz
“And you shall do which is right and good....” Deuteronomy (6-18)
This refers to a compromise going beyond the strict interpretation of the law. Rashi.
That one should do good and right in all matters, so that what results is compromise and acting beyond the exact demands of the law. Ramban
What is to be derived from the additional words of Ramban “so that what results...” etc.?
Ramban views the Torah’s words as a directive to develop an attitude of seeking harmony in all of one’s relationships. What will then result is compromise and acting beyond the strict letter of the law in a manner whereby the spirit of the law is also fulfilled.
There are opinions that there is significance to the fact that Ramban added the conjunction “and” between the term compromise and the term going beyond the exact demands of the law. What is the significance in adding the conjunction?
“Pshara” - compromise and “Lifnim meshurat hadin” - doing beyond what the law requires, are two separate halachic categories. When the text commands us to do “that which is right” it is referring to acting according to the spirit of the law in addition to the complying with the letter of the law. The second textual reference to “good” refers to choosing compromise as a means of settling a lawsuit.
What is the connection between verse 6 and verse 18 in chapter 6 according to Ramban?
Verse 6 of the Shma commands us to place God’s words “upon your heart” i.e. to be mindful of them in all our human activities, meaning that we should seek to do what is right and good in the eyes of God in every situation and the result will be the fulfillment of “Pshara” and “Lifnim meshurat hadin.” Thus, verse 18 is a fulfillment of verse 6.
Prepared by: Rabbi Mordechai Spiegelman veteran yeshiva educator (USA) now residing in Jerusalem