On Being Judge and Jury

My brother has long been known for his oratory skills. At Boston University Law School, he was awarded first prize in the Albers Moot Court Competition and received the G. Joseph Tauro Award for Outstanding Ability in Oral Advocacy. And, after a few years of practicing law, he carried his skills with him as he entered the rabbinate.

Bar none, my brother gives great sermons. Period. He can speak on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur (or on any other occasion for that matter) without written notes. Seriously. He can tell a joke, weave a story, quote Talmud…for twenty minutes or more…without referring to any cheat sheet. He’s truly an awesome all-star. (I don’t think anyone has ever fallen asleep during one of his verbal relays.)

As admirable as his speaking ability is, however, his approach frustrated a lot of people. (Especially yours truly!) In the “snooze you lose” category, if you missed one of his sermons or talks — too bad. There was no written or typed copy by which to get an “instant replay.” No joke.

Well, thanks to pressures from technology and social media outlets, my brother and his colleague, Rabbi Paula Mack Drill, finally started their own blog. They call it “Two Rabbis, One Voice, Three Opinions.” Cute, huh? They take turns writing about something going on in the everyday world and connect it to some meaningful lesson. Their posts are interesting and often enlightening. I kvell every time I read them.

*     *     *

Last night my brother posted a piece called “Referees and Umpires.” It’s a great read. It gave me reason to pause and reflect on the ways in which we judge others and situations. Too often we are unduly influenced in our decision-making by factors that are outside of the immediate case or the facts that lie before us. For example, if we’ve known someone for years, we may overlook his or her blunder because of the long-term nature our relationship. If we don’t like someone’s appearance, we may treat him or her with disdain. If we hear a rumor that so-and-so beats his wife, we may refuse to hire him for a job. Etc., etc., etc. While the rabbi loves to use sports analogies, his examples all ring true.

In this day and age we are bombarded by ongoing and instantaneous sound-bites. Perhaps we should take some time to carefully investigate and fully process what we are seeing and hearing — as objectively as possible — before we become both judge and jury. I’m sure we all can work on being a bit less judgmental and less partial in our daily endeavors.

Just a thought…Thanks, Bro….

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