If G-d is the final judge, what's the point of human courts in Judaism? Aside from their obvious function in practical matters like divorce that need to be taken care of here and now and not decided later, what function do they serve if G-d is the final judge?

For example, if someone is suspected of committing murder and then convicted, we need to remove that person from society, but G-d will punish them anyways, so what's the point of humans doing it as well?

Furthermore, unlike G-d, human courts can always get the facts wrong and convict innocent people. Of course, dangerous individuals need to be removed from society, which is another function of human courts, but courts deal with many issues that aren't life threatening as well.

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    Preventing social collapse and chaos? Enabling commerce?
    – LN6595
    Commented Dec 8, 2019 at 23:52
  • Those go back to practical matters. I'm thinking more along the lines of whether someone committed murder. Yes, we need to remove that person from society, but G-d will punish them anyways, so what's the point of humans doing it as well? I'm sure this issue has been brought up before, and I'm wondering what the justification is.
    – user27343
    Commented Dec 8, 2019 at 23:55
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    Like with any other mitzvah that we fulfill, when done properly, those engaged with the courts earn reward/payment from G-d. That is associated with the concept of removing the “bread of shame” and the mitzvot of tzedakah. See The Way of HaShem, 1st section for details. It is also associated with the concept of revealing G-d’s presence in this world and cleaving to G-d. Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 0:42
  • How would you suggest us removing the convicted murderer from society (which you agree we need to do), without us punishing him (as you say God will do anyway)? As I see it, any action we take to remove him from society (death, imprisonment, exile) would be (or could be viewed as) a punishment.
    – Tamir Evan
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 5:24

3 Answers 3


For example, if someone is suspected of committing murder and then convicted, we need to remove that person from society, but G-d will punish them anyways, so what's the point of humans doing it as well?

Because part of the punishment that Hashem wants for a murderer is that he be tried and killed in a human court.

Why does Hashem have human courts at all instead of just killing murderers whenever they would have died had they been tried in human court?

For one thing, Hashem places such importance on a human justice system that it is from the few mitzvos given even to non-Jews.Apparently it is important for humans to have a justice system for their own sake rather than Hashem doing it for them

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    What about double jeopardy? If a human court punishes someone and then G-d does, aren't they being punished twice for the same thing? Or would would G-d take this into account? Which mitzvot relate to the justice system?
    – user27343
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 0:42
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    No, they are being punished twice. I don't think Hashem follows the double jeopardy laws but either way they do not apply for the same crime committed in multiple jurisdictions.
    – Schmerel
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 0:47
  • Parshas Shoftim talks about the mitzvah of having judges. In Perek HaChovel the Mishna talks about the need to get mechila from someone ever after the court required amount was paid
    – Schmerel
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 0:48

Perhaps the reason why God would want human courts is that society needs judges to make proper judgement and to evaluate the nation-state, kingdom, country, and etc. Without a good judge in a country evil would likely cause harm and good would be minimal. Intelligence is also what separates man from animal. God gave us the capability to be intelligent while, other animals lack such skill. God wants us to develop intelligence and guide others.

Think about in this these terms why would God allow humans to exist if we're going to just cause evil and good in this world. The Judge is merely an intelligent person who is capable of helping people and understanding what proper course of action should be taken in order for an individual who has caused evil to reform or change.

God is often seen as the final judge because he is King of the Universe meaning he is the most intelligent being in existance. And if God was to hand out judgements to everyone in this life then, we wouldn't have the potential of human achievement of people going out on their own and following the ways of God if he we were to blindly obey God's every command.

the reason being why intelligence is so valued is that without intelligence how does one become like Moses and serve God? Can someone without an education really be serving God? There are no doubt some people who are very intelligent well mannered and are poor and serving God while, there are wealth people who don't serve God as they lack the intelligence to do proper actions via the Knowledge of the Torah. And Vice versa there are poor people who lack intelligence and rich people who have intelligence.

Also, there can't be any form of society without intelligence. Our Laws are written with words that must be read. Our actions are followed by our thoughts which must be made proper with knowledge. Any society, country, nation-state, kingdom that is formed without intelligent people will be without morals, God, and goodness. So intelligence is a necessary quality that any individual needs to serve God including Moses.


G-d wants us to have judicial systems because G-d is not involved in the world. That is to say, G-d formed the world out of preexisting matter and has not interfered since. People need to look after themselves and not rely on G-d to perform miracles.[1]

The second part of your question asks bout G-d punishing people in the afterlife. Additionally, and this will bother many people, Maimonides seems to say that reward and punishment does not exist. When a person dies their intellect joins (or, is absorbed to) the great intellect – that when a person s/he does not go to paradise – nor is the person judged.[2]

[1] Idea found in Maimonides and the Book That Changed Judaism: Secrets of "The Guide for the Perplexed" by Rabbi Micah Goodman, chapter 1, The G-d of Maimonides, pg 3

[2] See essay Chelek

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    This answer is appropriate for some place like Reddit but not here. It's assumed that questions here will be answered by experts on Judaism and from the perspective of an accepted school of thought within Judaism. Personal opinions don't belong here.
    – user27343
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 20:59
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    @TurkHill His opinions do matter, but point 1 is neither sourced nor Maimonidies' opinion, and point 2 is not relevant.
    – AKA
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 9:05
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    You quote quite a lot of things in the name of Rambam that are the exact opposite of what he explicitly says.
    – Heshy
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 18:44
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    God doesn't intervene in the world? What about exodus? Was that not an intervention. It just sounds like you're writing things out thin air, and you haven't sourced anything.
    – user27343
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 22:04
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    I encourage you to take a look at Hil. Yesodei HaTorah, first chapter, to see how foolish these ideas are.
    – DonielF
    Commented Dec 11, 2019 at 20:49

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