Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

JUDGING FAIRLY Part 3

We have thus far discussed three of the four categories of people with regard to the command to judge fairly. The first three were the righteous man, the average man, and the unrighteous man. The fourth category is the stranger, a person whom we do not know and therefore cannot ascertain his level of righteousness. Because we do not know him there is no logical way of judging his actions. Consequently there is no obligation to judge his actions favorably. Nonetheless it is commendable to give him the benefit of the doubt when he does a dubious act. It is always praiseworthy to look for a positive interpretation of the actions of others. Moreover, doing so constitutes a fulfillment of the command to love thy neighbor as yourself: This commandment tells us that we should treat and view others in the same way that we would like to be treated ourselves. We would surely want onlookers to judge our actions in a favorable light.

Last week we mentioned that there are two aspects to judging people - one is to ascertain whether they did a certain action or not. The second is to judge their motives for doing such an action. This applies just as much to a person that we do not know as to a close acquaintance. With regards to the first category we have seen how we are not expected to be nave and presume everyone is righteous. However, with regard to the second we are expected to avoid passing judgment on the person for what they have done and assume that we are better than them.

This concept is found throughout Jewish thought - we can never be sure who is a better person in the eyes of Hashem. Why is this? The answer is that each person is judged according to the amount of effort he exerts at becoming a better person. One person may have been brought up in a home of righteous people and been given every opportunity to become a righteous person - for him it may be very easy to go through the motions without much effort and attain a high level of righteousness. However, if he has not exerted himself much then he does not receive a great deal of credit for his actions.

In contrast a person who was born in into a family of murderers, for example, will face a much greater challenge to attain any level of righteousness - for him to refrain from killing people is a great test and if he overcomes it then he may be deserving of more reward than his righteous fellow.

Based on this concept it is clear that we can never pass judgment on the behavior of others even if we know that they have committed incorrect actions.


Text Copyright 2008 by Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON NOACH:

View Complete List

Leisure Time
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5766

The Best Policy
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5765

What Goes Around Comes Around
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5760

> Free Gifts for People Who Find Favor
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5767

The Shame Of Cham
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5762

When the Illegitimate Becomes Legitimate
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5758

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Priorities Define A Person
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5766

One for the Birds
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756

The Miracle of Free Will
Rabbi Elly Broch - 5765

ArtScroll

People In Stone Houses Should not Cast Bricks
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5774

Taking a Hint
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5766

The Roots of Evil
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5769

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The World is a Symphony
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5757

What a Deal!
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760

Rabbi Frand on Parshas Noach
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5770

Language Barrier
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5760



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information