Judging Favorably

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Over Shabbos, I was discussing with my wife the recent stories in the news about prominent members of the frum community whose sins (particularly sex-related) have been recently publicly revealed. My wife wisely said that it is incumbent upon us to believe that, if these allegations are true, these people are the rare exceptions and certainly nowhere near the norm in our community. If we believe that adhering to basic standards is unusual then we will be more complacent with our own spiritual standing. For selfish reasons, if for no other, we must judge our community favorably.

My wife is not learned enough to have sources for this idea but her pious intuition served her well. This can be found in R. Yitzhak of Corbille’s Semak, mitzvah 225:

Included in this [mitzvah] is to judge one’s fellow favorably because through judging favorably one will think that no one sins but me, and will repent/return to his Creator…

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student currently is serving his third term on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and also serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He serves on the Editorial Board of Jewish Action magazineand the Board of OU Press. He has published four English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

One comment

  1. Sefer Pele Yoetz, chapter Gaavah (arrogance):
    [One of the signs of a humble person] is that he judges
    every person favorably [literally, he judges every person
    to the side of merit, LeCaf Zechut]…

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