Judges and officials you are to provide for yourselves…they are to judge the people with fair judgements. You are not to cast aside a case-for-judgment, you are not to specially recognize anyone’s face, and you are not to take a bribe – for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise, and twists the words of the just. Justice, justice you are to pursue… (Selections from Deuteronomy 16:18-20)
When we appoint and elect leaders, judges, officials of any sort, our traditions teach us that we must hold them to a very high standard. To stand up for people is to accept upon ourselves a responsibility to pursue justice in all its forms, to aim past bias and favors, and to embrace the complicated way in which justice appears different from different people’s perspectives. Still we must limit our explorations of different viewpoints. Some indeed sentiments are beyond the boundaries of civil society. To advocate for the destruction of the very principles upon which our communities are based is to transgress against any reasonable tolerance of open-minded acceptance of differing views. As we navigate the hazardous waters of politics, community, and religion together, I hope to participate in helping us discuss, clarify, and continue to evolve, our senses of these boundaries as we uphold them together.
Rabbi Freirich serves as Rabbi at Temple Beth Zion