Q. I came across a Rosh HaShanah prayer that praises Abraham for saying, “Shall the Judge of all the earth be just!” What is this all about?
The reference to Abraham is from Gen. 18:25 where the patriarch challenges God for seeming to be unfair in the way He runs the world.
He says, “Shall the Judge of all the earth not act justly?” – i.e., “Is it logical for a judge, even the Almighty Judge of the whole of Creation, not to practise justice in his own life?”
The liturgical poet may have translated the words to suit himself, as a pious proclamation of God as an impeccable judge. But if we take the words in the sense in which the patriarch uttered them they seem to say that God is to be praised for letting human beings criticise Him.
True, when His patience gives way He tells humans, as happens in the Book of Job, “Who are you to give Me advice? What do you know about running a universe?”
But never does He prevent us from shouting at Him or wondering whether His judgments are really fair.