Shofetim: Nicknames & Judges
Everyone is focused on their walks, jogs, or runs. We do not say more than “Good Morning” to each other, although usually we just nod our heads in greeting. We don’t know each other’s names, but we all have nicknames: There is “Backwards Charlie”, who walks backwards, “The Tree Hugger” who stretches in front of a tree, “The Teacher” who won’t miss an opportunity to convey his priceless wisdom to any victim – I’m sorry – willing listener. “The Duck” has a unique walk, “Ebony” is an albino, and “Unlucky” is a woman who has walked three miles every day for 15 years and hasn’t lost a pound. I’m “Soldier Boy” because of my IDF tee shirt.
For some reason, people want to speak to me as I stretch after my walk. Everyone knows their nicknames and wants me to understand their peculiarities. “Backwards Charlie” has no natural sense of balance. He walks backwards to overcome his vertigo. “The Duck” has a neurological disorder. “The Teacher’s” wife and daughters refuse to listen to a word he says. Everyone has a story and is desperate to be understood.
We are commanded to appoint judges for each tribe, community, metropolis etc. “All politics are local” for some. For us: “All Judgments are local.” A person who stands before a judge must feel that the judge understands him and can relate to him on a personal level.
Perhaps that is why we have so many appellations – nicknames – for God. We experience God in different ways. Each Name reflects a different perspective, often deeply personal and unique.
When we stand before God on Rosh Hashana for judgment we are granted the same consideration as a person who stands in court: My Judge can relate to me as I am.”
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