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 naïve 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


 
Sell Chometz Online







ARTICLES ON KEDOSHIM AND THE OMER:

View Complete List

Significance of the Omer
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5757

The Kedusha Infomercial
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

“Letter to my Son Akiva” (born 10 years ago, on Erev LAG B’OMER)
Jon Erlbaum - 5771

> Identical but Different
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758

In Bounds
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5762

Empty Nest
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

ArtScroll

Good Salesman
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5764

Why is this Portion Different from Other Portions?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5757

Stamped a Sinner
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5757

Looking for a Chavrusah?

In the "Judging Business"
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760

Cloaked in Dignity
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5761

It Is Easier To Overcome Physical Pain Than To Suppress The Human Psyche
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5772

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Don't Take Revenge...
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5759

Faith Healer
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5770

Honorable Mentshen
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5762

Self-Love: Is it Self-ish?
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761



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