As part of the functioning society the Torah seeks to create, the Torah requires us to have a judiciary to interpret the law, and an executive to apply it:
שֹׁפְטִים וְשֹׁטְרִים, תִּתֶּן-לְךָ בְּכָל-שְׁעָרֶיךָ – You shall place judges and police within all your gates… (16:18)
As with many mitzvos, the Torah speaks to individuals here, and not the community. Does the Torah expect each of us to individually to create a roster of judges and a police force?
While the simple reading is about judges and police, it is not simply a law about the branches of government.
The Shelah instead reads it as Judaism’s source for the principle of personal development. Building a great society starts with individuals. The mitzvah is given to “you” (second person possessive) because nobody else could judge or police you in the way only you are able.
R’ Yisrael Salanter taught that our natural intuition is the only judge and policeman we ever need.
R’ Jonathan Sacks explains that this is a microcosm of the Jewish People’s mission. In our personal lives and in our communities, we have a duty to determine whether there is a gap between where we are and where we ought to be, then taking the necessary steps to bridge it.
Because if we’re tuned in, we know what’s wrong, and we know how to fix it too.