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Mishlei 18-18 (Arbitration)

Mishlei 18-18


Key Concepts

When individuals get into arguments about the ownership of property, they generally turn to a judicial authority to resolve the conflict. However, there may not be sufficient evidence to point to a clear solution. In such case the judge or Beis Din may recommend a process of arbitration where both parties agree in advance to accept the outcome. An example of an arbitration process involves a lottery or the casting of a lot (גוֹרָל). Since the outcome of the lottery cannot be predicted in advance, the two parties can more easily accept that it reflects the will of Hashem.

For the sake of peace and goodwill it is important that at the end of any legal process the contending parties cease all claims against each other and do not remain in a state of conflict. However, there are disputes where the parties so firmly maintain their position that they cannot find it in their hearts to accept the outcome of the arbitration as being the will of Hashem. In such cases, the least that can be expected is to keep the adversaries at a distance from each other. The likelihood of a bitter confrontation can then be minimized. This is also counted as a valid achievement of the arbitration process and may be the best that can be expected under the circumstances.

Exploring Mishlei

 יח = מִדְיָנִים יַשְׁבִּית הַגּוֹרָל וּבֵין עֲצוּמִים יַפְרִיד

(18) The casting of a lot puts conflicts to rest
and separates adversaries.

The two parts of this proverb correspond to the two types of disputants. When the disputants are able to put their selfish claims aside and accept the outcome of the lottery arbitration (הַגּוֹרָל) as being the will of Hashem, it puts conflicts (מִדְיָנִים) to rest (יַשְׁבִּית) and brings peace.

The second part of the proverb addresses the situation when the adversaries (עֲצוּמִים) stubbornly resist attempts to make them forgive and forget. In such cases, by bringing the case to a conclusion, the lottery has provided a basis for separating the parties (יַפְרִיד) so that the community, as a whole, will be at peace.

Learning Mishlei

 (18) Conflictsמִדְיָנִים
are put to rest יַשְׁבִּית
by the lottery הַגּוֹרָל
and between stubborn adversariesוּבֵין עֲצוּמִים.
it facilitates separation יַפְרִיד

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