Dvar Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
When Moses could no longer bear the burden of judging the Jewish people alone, he followed his father-in-law’s advice and appointed judges. The Torah tells us that Moses said:
“And I commanded your judges at that time saying, ‘listen amongst your brothers’ ” (Deuteronomy 1:16).
Why did Moses tell them to listen amongst their brethren?
Rashi cites the Sifri (a Midrash) that Moses told the judges to be patient and deliberate in each case that came before them. Even if they had similar cases in the past, they should discuss the present case thoroughly.
Every case is different from any other, and each case should be viewed as entirely new and every detail considered. This applies whenever you become involved in settling quarrels between people. Of course, there are patterns that anyone with experience will recognize, but there will always be factors that make each situation unique. Do not jump to conclusions.
Rather, listen carefully to both sides. Just because one solution worked in a past situation does not mean that it will automatically be effective in a situation that is quite similar though a little bit different. One needs to be creative and flexible. Whenever you try to help people settle quarrels, give the matter your full attention to see what needs to be said and done in this specific situation. By doing this, you will have the merit of bringing peace to many more people than if you rigidly try the exact same approach each time. Why did Moses tell the judges to listen to their brethren? Only by truly listening will they hear the important details that make the case unique.