Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
I have heard so many stories about Tzvi Tal, former Supreme Court justice, who passed away yesterday at the age of 94. Emotional stories about his son Moshe who was killed in the Yom Kippur War. Tal prayed every Yom Kippur at the Har Etzion yeshiva. Moshe left the yeshiva to go to battle and did not return. There are fascinating stories about the trial of John Demjanjuk. Tal fasted on the day in which he decided on a death verdict after soul searching and fear of the Almighty. Compassionate stories about relationships with those he sent to prison. He would maintain a connection with them, visit them in prison, and sometimes even assist their families financially. But I was looking for a story to which each of us could relate and it follows below:
When he submitted his candidacy to be a judge, he wrote a letter to the Lubavitcher Rebbe and asked for his blessing. The Rebbe recommended that he compete for the position, but "at the same time, take upon himself the matter of passing judgments of 'the Judge of all the earth' in his private life." In other words: together with an elevation in rank, it is important for a person to elevate his own spiritual level. If you become a judge, you must take upon yourself a new commitment for self-improvement. This way of thinking can benefit those who achieve greatness, become famous and highly successful, but wish to avoid failure and falling from grace.
Tzvi Tal was appointed judge and did not forget the Rebbe's request. He established a daily Talmud class in Jerusalem's Bayit Vegan neighborhood. This class became legendary and continued for 40 years without interruption. More than once, over the years, I saw him going to his class and returning from it, a part of the Jerusalem landscape: The judge who remembered the "Judge of all the earth" above him.