After directing the Jews to appoint "judges and bailiffs," Parsahat Shoftim launches a list of six prohibitions:

  1. Do not bend justice and…
  2. Do not give special consideration [to anyone].
  3. Do not take bribes…
  4. Do not plant a tree for yourself near the altar that you build for the Lord, your G‑d.
  5. Do not erect a statue, since this is something that the Lord, your G‑d, hates
  6. Do not sacrifice to the Lord, your G‑d, any ox, sheep or goat that has a serious blemish… (Deut. 16:19-17:1)

Shem miShmuel explains that these six negative commandments correspond to our five senses, plus one more, which includes all of the five together. be a good must use the full force of his intellect...

The first of these negative commandments enjoins us from perverting justice, in any way, shape or form. It couldn’t be, says Shem miShmuel, that this injustice refers to deliberate perversions of justice, in which someone intentionally misjudges a case. Such an action would fall under the category of theft, which the Torah has already taken pains to forbid. It must be that this command refers to a different failing – not judging the case to the full extent of the judge’s capability. In other words, to be a good judge, according to the Torah, one must use the full force of his intellect in order to uncover all the details of the case and get down to the crux – only then can the resulting decision be truly informed and objective.

This facet of judgment corresponds, says Shem miShmuel to the sense of sight. In order to decide a case properly, a judge must "see" it from all sides and angles.

Shem miShmuel does not explain the rest of the correspondence between the prohibitions and the senses (except for the final one), however perhaps we can guess what they are:

The command to pursue justice by refraining from giving special consideration to anyone may be associated with the sense of taste. The Torah, which gives us the laws justice, is compared to bread, which has taste and permeates our innards. Also, it is said of the Torah: "Taste and see that G‑d is good." (Ps. 34:9)

The injunction not to accept a bribe appears to correspond to the sense of hearing, which is essential in inductive reasoning by which one draws conclusions based upon the facts. Thus, the commandment not to accept a bribe – but to judge fairly – may be associated with the sense of hearing.

...a judge with a limited sense of smell may miss certain intuitive clues...

The injunction not to plant a tree near an altar may be associated with the sense of smell. It is said that when the Mashiach arrives, he will judge "with the sense of smell," (Is. 11:3) meaning that he will sense the true nature of the case with a new level of refined intuition. The tree near the altar may not affect the holiness of the altar, but its very proximity emits a "smell" that invalidates the offering. So also, a judge with a limited sense of smell may miss certain intuitive clues that would otherwise lead him to the correct conclusion.

The injunction against stone statues may correspond to the sense of touch. A stone statue is the most concrete representation possible if anything in the physical world. Since it was used by the Canaanites for idol worship, it is an object hated by G‑d, since it is associated with the misuse of our tactile sense in experiencing reality.

The last of the negative commandments forbids bringing blemished sacrifices as offerings to G‑d. This commandment, says Shem miShmuel, contains a clue as to as characteristic that causes us to violate all the others – arrogance.

Since he is so sure of himself, he fails to censor negative input...

If we are arrogant, we will fail to place "judges and bailiffs" as censors at our gates, and we will allow all of the wrong sensory information into our heart. The Talmud states that a man who is arrogant is a ba’al mum, a "blemished individual." Since he is so sure of himself, he fails to censor negative input, and becomes "blemished."

[From "Inner Lights from Jerusalem" based on the Shem miShmuel and other Chassidic and Kabalistic Sources, translated and presented by Rabbi David Sterne]