The Torah portion Shoftim begins with the statement:1 “Appoint yourselves judges and police” — “Justices who rule on matters of law, and police who insure that the judgments are carried out.”2

The difference between “judges” and “police” is similar to the difference between “we shall do” and “we shall hear [and understand3]”4 — the statement made by the Jewish people in response to G‑d’s asking if we were willing to receive the Torah.

Judges clarify Torah laws, issue actual rulings and see to it that their rulings reach all Jews. They thus symbolize “we shall hear [and understand]” all aspects of Torah and mitzvos.

Police, on the other hand, enforce the “we shall do” part; they see to it that the deeds get done even when a person may not want to do so.5 In this, they help the nation accept the Yoke of Heaven.

One may think that “we shall hear” has no purpose in and of itself, but merely serves as a means to an end — the actual performance of the mitzvos. To prove that “we shall hear” — the appointing of judges and justice — is indeed an end in itself, the Midrash6 offers the following:

“It is analogous to a king who had many children, and loved the youngest most. He also had an orchard which he loved above all others. The king said: ‘I shall give my most beloved orchard to my most beloved son.’ So too, G‑d said: ‘From all the Nations I love the Jewish people … From all that I created I love justice … I shall give that which I love most to whom I love most.’ Thus — ‘Appoint yourselves judges….”

This also helps us understand why “we shall do” preceded “we shall hear,” although first one “hears” and then one “does.” When hearing precedes doing, one may err in assuming that hearing is just a preliminary step. But when hearing follows the deed, we understand that it is significant in and of itself.

The reason hearing and understanding are significant is because His greatest pleasure and delight are brought about when Jews perform Torah and mitzvos with comprehension and understanding. For G‑d desired a dwelling place within the nethermost world7 — so that all aspects of this world will serve as an abode and vessel for G‑dliness.

When a Jew acts merely out of acceptance of the Divine Yoke, then, notwithstanding the fact that he is thereby demonstrating his nullification to the Divine Will, he is not making an abode for G‑d within the entirety of his being. This is only accomplished when every aspect of a person’s being, including his intellect, becomes an abode for G‑dliness.

Within the intention that accompanies the performance of mitzvos, there are two specific aspects:8

a) the general intent, which is similar in all mitzvos, of fulfilling the Divine Will and accepting the Yoke of the Commandments;

b) the specific intent, related to the effect of9 and reason for each mitzvah in particular — something which requires logic and reason.

The difference between these two kinds of intention is connected to the two distinct aspects of mitzvos:10

a) the indivisible and equally powerful Divine Will found within all mitzvos means they are all similar with regard to G‑d’s desire that they be performed;

b) the Divine Delight (the inner aspect of the Divine Will) found within mitzvos differs from one mitzvah to the next.

This is similar to the will and delight found within man. Will and desire are indivisible; they are found equally in all things that a person wills or desires. Pleasure and delight, however, are divisible; each soul power has a distinct way of experiencing delight.11

There is therefore a distinct merit to the particular intent of a mitzvah over the general intent,12 for the particular intent relates to the Divine Delight.

This is similar to that which was explained above — that G‑d’s pleasurable desire is to have a dwelling place within all levels of this world. This is accomplished when mitzvos are performed with the intent that emanates from a person’s comprehension and delight — an intent that creates echoes in the most lofty degree of Divine Pleasure and Delight.

Based on Likkutei Sichos , Vol. XXIX, pp. 95-101