'Tis silly season for the Supreme Court again, as all the discussion and controversy that swirls around each nominee goes into high spin.

Is he/she a liberal or a conservative? A strict constructionist or a "living Constitution" supporter? Does she/he support ______ (fill in the blank with your favorite social or political position)?

Political scores are being settled and future favors are being paid for in advance as Washington lines up to battle for and against the chosen candidate.

As these performances take place within the multiple rings of the media-political circus, the real questions languish entirely outside the tent of public discourse.

To find these real questions we need to look from one of the youngest legal systems (that of the USA) to the most ancient continuously functioning legal system: The classic system of Halachah ("the path") of Jewish life and its institutions: the Beit Din (court) which is made up of carefully chosen dayanim (judges).

As we peruse several millennia of Judaic texts relating to the question of a Beit Din appointment, we find that although we also look at a candidate's competence, knowledge and intellectual flexibility, these do not comprise the major part of our inquiry. The preponderance of questions have very little to do with knowledge or specific positioning on issues—in fact, in this process we don’t inquire at all as to a candidate's position on the various "hot" issues of the day.

Instead, the majority of questions are about decency, honesty and integrity. This is because one cannot project to others what they do not have within. Truth can only be found by those who treasure it. Technical virtuosity is necessary, but a love for truth, a yearning for justice and a respect for others is an absolute imperative. And these things have to be lived—they cannot be studied.

So the questions we demand affirmative responses to in the Torah model are:

Is this candidate free of greed, so that bribery has no appeal?

Is this person free of arrogance, so that flattery holds no seduction?

Is this person courageous, so that intimidation has no effect?

Is this a person who relates well to people from all walks of life—one who understands their issues and their pain and their challenges?

Is this a person free of serious wrongdoing in the past, so that he cannot be derided or, worse yet, blackmailed?

Does this person behave with dignity, so that the law is respected?

Does this person work together with colleagues, and listen to them, as truth emerges from honest give-and-take discussion?

Does this person behave in a way that allows no possibility that anyone will think he is taking personal advantage of his position?

And last of, and above, all: Does this person recognize, and is absolutely committed to, the Higher Power (the belief in which all the institutions of these United States are also based on) whose desire of humanity is: "He has told you, O man, what is good, and what the L-rd demands of you: but to do justice, to love loving-kindness, and to walk discreetly with your G‑d"1?

These are the questions we should be asking any judicial candidate—and ourselves.