Do you know why judges wear black robes? The custom comes from Colonial Judges in England who wore black and sometimes colorful robes as well white powered wigs. The custom made its way to the United States and became an integral part of our justice system. While the wigs have faded away, the traditional black robe is still worn by every state and federal judge when they walk into a court room. This week our country lost one of our brightest and most treasured legal minds with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. As I watched the coverage, it always showed Justice Scalia wearing his robe, and reminded me of the attire worn by the Kohen Gadol as they entered the Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem.
While every Priest had his/her own responsibility, just as every judge in our country has their own as well, it was their clothes that revealed their common responsibility to uphold the rule of law. When the priests walked around amongst the Israelite people, they were unique individuals, with individual needs and interests. Yet when they put on their holy attire, their focus was on their tradition and the people. So too with our judges, we may not always agree with their understanding of the law, but when they stand before us, draped in black, they deserve our respect and admiration for upholding the rule of law.