Torah Portion: Mishpatim
When two men fight, and one hits the other with a stone or with his fist… (Shemos 21:18).
When one person wounds his fellow, it is a positive commandment to punish him, as it is written in the Torah section that begins, When two men fight, and one hits the other etc. (Shemos 21:18). This is called “the laws of fines.” In another verse the Torah gives this general rule about all such fines: as he has done, so shall be done to him (Vayikra 24:19). That rule does not mean to say that the aggressor should literally be wounded the same way he wounded the victim; rather, it means that out of a person’s money should be taken that amount that will give him as much pain as he gave his fellow.
Even if he did not strike the other but only shamed him, the beis din is to cause him pain through his money that he is to pay the shamed person, according to the intensity of that shame.
These cases, the judgments of fines, may be judged only by an ordained beis din in the Land of Israel.
The root of this commandment and, in general, the root of all that is conveyed in the Torah about judgment in law, is the self-understood idea that if there were no justice, human beings would never be able to live together. A country cannot function without justice.
This commandment, that we are obligated to judge and punish one who injures another, applies tomen who are fit to judge.