Sunday, July 09, 2006

Judge Favorably

We are commanded to judge our friends and neighbors favorably, even when it seems what they are doing is wrong. It's usually pretty hard to do, but this may make it slightly easier.

A close friend of mine had a child who was born with serious health issues. (Sadly, the child passed away a few years ago.) There were many times when he was awake all night caring for the baby.

One morning he arrived at a "minyan factory" about 10:30 am to daven Shacharis. There was an older man sitting in the corner of the room trying to learn. Suddenly he (the older man) jumped up and started screaming at everyone in the room "You lazy idiots! You show up at this time of the day to daven Shacharis?! Your laziness is causing me to be unable to learn, it's too noisy!". He angrily slammed shut the sefer and stalked out.

My friend followed him and tapped him on the shoulder:

"Don't you know we are commanded to judge people favorably?"

"Oh please, you guys are just a bunch of lazy bums!"

"Is it not possible that some people might have been up all night caring for a sick baby, and they therefore are coming to daven at this time? "

"Oh come on! How many sick babies can there be? There are 20 people in there! Do they all have sick babies?!"

"I can't speak for them, but I know I have been up all night with my sick child".

"Oh, I'm very sorry, I wasn't referring to your case".

My friend responded:

"Just like I have a valid reason I am here now, so to you must look at each person here like they do as well. That's what being "Dan L'kaf Zechus" means. You have no idea what's going on in their lives. Don't be so quick to rush to judgment.

The man was left speechless.

I'd just like to add that not only does this apply to us and our friends and neighbors, but it certainly applies to gedolim as well. We are always so quick to judge, we don't always know the whole story, although we may think we do.