“And these are the laws that you should place before them.”
Seemingly this parsha is written out of order. In the middle of last week’s parsha the Torah writes about the Giving of The Torah. After that the Torah speaks about the mizbaiach. And after that comes our parsha, that teaches us civil laws. It would seem that the civil laws should be written right after the parsha of Giving The Torah.
Apparently Chazal were bothered by this question and they explain that the reason for is to teach us that just like this parsha is next to the halachos of the mizbaiach so too we should place the Sanhedrin next to the mizbaiach. (This is the wording of the Mechilta and some versions of Rashi. In other versions of Rashi it says that the Sanhedrin should be near to the Bais HaMikdash.)
Zera Shimshon asks that the Sanhedrin wasn’t at all next to the mizbaiach! The Sanhedrin sat in a room called Lishkas HaGazis. This room was situated on the outer parameter of the Bais HaMikdash, half built on kodesh ground and half built on non-kodesh ground. The Gemorro in Yoma (daf 25/a) says that the Sanhedrin sat in the non-kodesh part! How then do we understand this Chazal that says that the Sanhedrin was next to the mizbaiach?
Zera Shimshon explains that Chazal are not learning from the order of the pessukim the physical location of the Sanhedrin but rather they are learning that the Sanhedrin is similar to the mizbaiach. For instance, just like the mizbaiach is made up of complete stones that are not broken or even chipped, so too the members of Snahedrin must be complete in their personalities ( midos tovos).
He continues to say that we also learn another halacha concerning the Sanhedrin from the Mizbaiach.
Before we get to this halacha, Zera Shimshon asks another question.
Chazal explain that this possuk, “And these are the laws that you should place before them” is not only a preface to the whole parsha. It teaches us the specific halacha that the laws in this parsha should only be given over and taught to Jews and not to non-Jews.
This being so, Zera Shimshon asks, what is the connection between this halacha and the fact that Sanhedrin are similar to the mizbaiach that they are both put together in one possuk?
He explains that there is another halacha concerning Sanhedrin that we learn from the mizbaiach. That just like both Jews and non-Jews can sacrifice a korbon on the Mizbaiach, so too both Jews and non-Jews can come before the Sanhedrin to pasken for them.
According to this, the two halachos alluded to in this possuk are not only similar but actually complement and explain each other!
Meaning: from the halacha that we can teach only Jewish people our halachos it would seem that we couldn’t pasken for a non-Jew since we would be teaching him a halacha. Therefore the Torah positioned this parsha next to the parsha that talks about the mizbaiach to teach us that both Jews and non-Jews can come before Sanhedrin just like they can bring a korbon on the mizbaiach.
The question still remains, “how then do we undersand the halacha, “…that you should place before THEM…” and not before non-Jews”?
Zera Shishmon concludes that it is only prohibited to teach the depth of the halacha to a non-Jew but the straight halacha we learn from the mizbaiach that it is permitted.