ABRAHAM WAS SITTING
Our sidra begins by telling us the G-d appeared to Abraham who was sitting at the entrance of his tent (Bereishit18:1). Rashi here quotes a strange Midrash: Abraham was seated and wanted to get up, but G-d told him, “Remain seated and I shall stand. And the fact that you are seated symbolizes something that will happen in the future.” Noting that judges must sit when they accept testimony in the courtroom and render decisions, Rashi then continues, G-d said, I shall stand and the judges will be sitting, as the verse says, “G-d stands in the congregation of judges.” (Psalms 82:1)
What idea is Rashi wishing to convey when he states that the judges are sitting but that G-d is standing?
Rabbi J B Soloveitchik (Mesorat HaRav Chumash p. 115) explains that when an important, dignified person comes to visit us, we rise and greet him. The host stands at the door receiving his guests. G-d came to visit Abraham, so Abraham jumped up from his seat. G-d said, “You are making a mistake, Abraham. You consider yourself to be the host and I, the guest. The opposite is true; I am the host and you are the guest. I am receiving you, not in your tent, but in My tent. This is My tent; nothing on earth is truly yours, so remain seated.”
The same is true in every courtroom. Judaism has never accepted the concept of one person judging another. How can a human being, who is just as imperfect as the accused in the dock, render judgement on him? For judgement belongs to G-d. (Devarim 1:17) Yet the Torah indeed allows human judgement because if human beings were not permitted to judge their fellow men then anarchy would prevail. Nevertheless, the judge must always remember that he is just an agent or messenger from G-d. The real judge, the Almighty, is standing there, unseen, in the courtroom. He is inviting us to sit and conduct the proceedings. We must therefore have a sense of humility whenever we are pronouncing judgement, whether in a courtroom or any other aspect of our lives. We are fallible and ultimately, accountable, to the ultimate Judge who is scrutinizing all that we do. Shabbat Shalom