#BlogElul 20 – Judge
We are coming up on our yearly Day of Judgement. Our Torah portion from just a few weeks ago told us that we should “appoint judges” everywhere we live. In the same portion, we are instructed, “Justice, justice shall you pursue.” Is it possible to have justice without judgement?
When we say that someone is being “judgemental”, it is usually meant in a pejorative fashion. Passing judgement implies condemnation of something or someone, probably based on criteria that we consider too narrow or out of date. Hence Chris Brown’s plea – if she judges him, he is sure to be found wanting. Is this what we mean as we prepare to stand before our Judge?
A powerful image around the High Holy Days involves the Book of Life. In this concept, G-d writes our fate for the coming year in the Book on Rosh HaShanah – but it is not sealed, or made indelible and unchangeable, until Yom Kippur. We are given lots of opportunity to change any unfavourable judgement and the makhzor, the special prayer book for the High Holy Days, tells us exactly how.
Teshuvah, Tefillah uTsedakah ma’avirin et ro’ah hagzeirah – Return (sometimes translated as repentance, but not quite the same thing), Prayer and Social Justice (again, sometimes translated as charity but not quite the same thing) can commute the evil decree.
Standing before a judge can strike fear into any heart – we can always think of reasons to be judged unfavourably, given that we are generally our own worst critics. But the liturgy gives us hope that any judgement against us can be mitigated by our sincere attempts to make ourselves better people, and the world a better place.
I don’t think any Judge could ask for more than that. What do you think?