By Rabbi Ben Tzion Spitz
Reconciliation should be accompanied by justice, otherwise it will not last. While we all hope for peace it shouldn't be peace at any cost but peace based on principle, on justice. -Maria Corazon Aquino
The Torah links the concept of pursuing justice with the ability to possess the land of Israel. Rabbi Hirsch on Deuteronomy 16:20 elaborates that our ability to possess the land is actually a function of the pursuit and promotion of justice. When justice is absent or lacking, then we actually run the risk of losing our right to the land. The converse is also true, that when justice reigns, so too, our claim to the land will be unquestioned. In his own words:
"Justice - right -- the shaping of all private and communal affairs in accordance with the requirements of God's Law, is to be the one supreme goal sought purely for its own sake; a goal to which all other considerations must defer. Israel's sole task is to pursue this goal unceasingly and with single-minded devotion, "so that you may live and take possession...." If Israel does this, it has done everything within its power to secure its physical and political existence."
"Note that even now, when it clearly refers to the time when Israel has already completed its occupation of the Land, the text still uses the term "and take possession," with reference to the political security that Israel will gain if it will honor and promote justice. The use of this term makes clear the crucial fact that Israel's possession of the land can be called in question at any time, and that Israel must take possession of its land anew at every moment, as it were, by making certain that the Jewish state will honor justice and translate it into reality throughout the land."
When injustice abounds, it nullifies our right to the land, or severely weakens it. Throughout our long history, the injustices we have perpetrated, or allowed to occur unchallenged, have invariably led to war, destruction and exile. Though we may have had right on our side, our misdeeds have consistently snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory. We need to constantly earn our right to the land by being a beacon of truth, morality and justice to all. When we fulfill our mission, God fulfills His ancient promises to us.
When true justice returns to Zion, then secure peace will not be far behind.