Judaism has many different depictions of God. At various times in our liturgy, we call God our father, our king, our redeemer, our teacher, our helper, our savior and our shield—among many others. As we move into the high holidays, we switch over to liturgy dominated by an alternative image of God: God as a judge. Our actions from the past year are recounted and tallied, and decisions about our fate are sealed in the book of life.
We as a people understand the importance and necessity of judges. God’s judgment on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur makes us accountable for our sins, and inspires us to do better in the year to come. The ancient Israelites set up a system of judges so there would be authoritative advisors, so that lawbreakers were punished for their transgressions and so that communities had an unbiased leader. All of these functions are necessary for a society to remain stable and to advance.
Unfortunately, the United States today faces an extreme shortage of judges. Over 150 million Americans live in areas declared “judicial emergencies,” meaning that there simply aren’t enough judges to hear all of the cases. These vacancies have real effects on real people—real Jews—across the country, who are forced to wait painful amounts of time before their cases are heard and their judicial needs are met.
As we move into Rosh Hashanah, think about the role that judgment plays in our lives, and take a moment to act on this important issue—to serve as the voice for justice that is all to absent in our judicial system today. Justice delayed is justice denied- so act now, and make the days of awe a true return to just judgment.
Image originally found here.