I apologize for the hiatus from blogging over the past few months. I was involved in a hit and run accident and have been recovering. The driver was under the influence and I was a pedestrian. Over the next weeks, I will be blogging about our new issue of Kesher that is available online. One of the articles is on the Jewish judge Cardozo. Elliot Klayman offers some introductory thoughts about his article:
“Benjamin Cardozo: Jewish Justice” in the most recent Kesher Volume (26) presents a famous judge who spoke to justice rather than partisanship. True to the biblical cry: “Justice, justice, thou shall pursue justice” he applied it evenhandedly with a passion, and perhaps this is what makes his legacy so enduring.
Cardozo exemplifies the modern Jew who is able to maintain a Jewish identity while operating in a secular world, in his case – a justice on the highest court in the Land. This comes with its own conflicts. It is akin to Paul, who became all things to all people – to the weak he became weak. Cardozo empathized with the less fortunate. Shaped by the shared experience of being a Jew, with knowledge of the span of Jewish history, he was poised to identify with the weak, albeit, the collectivity of the weak, as opposed to simply the individual. He identified with the groups of those who were homeless, those who were pension-less, those who were jobless. That he did in the myriad of cases that he was called upon to judge, both in the state appellate court and the U.S. Supreme Court venues. His progressive stands on many issues reflected his experience and desire to extricate the needy from their “Egyptian” enslavement.
Noteworthy, though, was his evenhandedness, and essentially, non-partisan decision-making. He followed his philosophy and his gut as he carved new precedent, and was not reserved about taking stances against the majority or the political swing of the day. Named by a Republican President, and yet seemingly Democrat on a personal level, he was beholden to no man’s party or program. He exhibited moral integrity, and his uprightness perhaps made it more palatable for Jewish appointments to the court in the years that followed; and today’s constituency where the High Court justices are one-third Jewish.
Experiencing a life altering accident like I did, it forces one to re-examine God’s justice and ask good questions. Like Cardozo, are we able to allow higher principles to govern our lives and decisions? Or, are we subject to the ever-changing social structures of this world? Jews and all followers of the God of Israel, including Christians, should be willing to lay aside allegiances to party, platform, and program to follow God’s higher ways of justice.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
For a more in depth study of Jewish justice see “Benjamin Cardozo: Jewish Justice” by Elliot Klayman at http://www.kesherjournal.com/Issue-26/Benjamin-Cardozo-Jewish-Justice*