Arik Ascherman

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I agree that those of us who believe we are pursuing justice must always ask ourselves about our own methods. It also occurs to me that, although we must strive to pursue justice in ways that win over even those who initially disagree with us, we must continue to pursue justice even when we are vilified. [...] We should never let support blind us, or become a substitute for continuing to be both self-critical, and dedicated to our goals. We should not be dissuaded by our critics, but we should be able to honestly ask ourselves if there is anything to learn from them. Hopefully, the fact that sympathizers and critics are taking notice means that we are actually doing something.

Arik Ascherman (Hebrew: אריק אשרמן; born 1959) is an American-born Israeli Reform rabbi, and co- founder of the interfaith human rights organization "Haqel-Jews and Arabs in Defense of Human Rights."

Quotes[edit]

  • When we read about appointing judges, and the dangers of bribery and corruption, we must remember that there are those who openly wish to undermine our judicial system. Some simply don’t believe that some of our leaders might be acting corruptly, some want to allow the legal process to take its course, some wish to convict without due process, and some just don’t care whether our leaders are corrupt. Shoftim is also a parasha where I remember one of my mentors, Rabbi David Forman z”l. “Justice, justice shall you pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20) was one of his most frequently quoted verses, along with the explanation that “justice” is repeated twice because we must pursue justice through just means.
  • I agree that those of us who believe we are pursuing justice must always ask ourselves about our own methods. It also occurs to me that, although we must strive to pursue justice in ways that win over even those who initially disagree with us, we must continue to pursue justice even when we are vilified. Both of these interpretations are relevant in this month of Elul, leading up to the High Holy Days. We recall that our deeds are our most important defending and prosecuting attorneys before the Holy One of Blessing during this season of judgement and introspection. Yet, we also know that we have earthly supporters and detractors. We should never let support blind us, or become a substitute for continuing to be both self-critical, and dedicated to our goals. We should not be dissuaded by our critics, but we should be able to honestly ask ourselves if there is anything to learn from them. Hopefully, the fact that sympathizers and critics are taking notice means that we are actually doing something.
  • I pray that each and every one of us will use this season of introspection and adjusting our course to rededicate ourselves to pursuing justice, and that we will have the ability to ask ourselves whether we are pursuing justice through just means. I hope that we will have the ability to seriously listen to our critics, while not being dissuaded from our ideals and goals. May we hold ourselves to these same high standards when we enter the voting booth. Rather than vote defensively or automatically or blindly, may we require of ourselves to vote in a way that ensures that we will be a society pursuing justice through just means, and where our judges and officials will not be blinded by bribes (16:19) May we vote for a government that will not undermine our legal system, but rather will observe the commandment “You shall appoint judges and officials for your tribes, in all the communities that Adonai your God is giving you, and they shall govern the people with due justice. (16:18)

External links[edit]

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