Advice: How to judge other people favorably
There are a few rules we need to follow, in order to be able to judge other people favorably.
Rule 1: Focus on their good deeds
Even if there is someone who appears to be full of negative character traits and who has a lot of issues and problems, we still need to try to find an area where they’re still acting and behaving nicely. We can’t overlook or minimize any good deed that they may still be doing.
Rule 2: Don’t make ‘general’ assumptions about a person
We have a tendency to make general assumptions about people, based on our own experiences, ideas and prejudices. But Chazal tell us: Don’t judge another person until you’ve been in their place.
This means that we have to try to understand how our fellow Jew, who also possesses such a holy, Divine soul, came to be found in such lowly places that are so far away from a spiritually-healthy lifestyle.
We need to try to figure out the reasons why they are acting the way they do, and this could include:
- Family issues
- A complicated childhood
- Negative influences from their friends and peers
- Very difficult experiences they’ve gone through in life – and many other things, besides.
Rule 3: Don’t get confused!
Judging someone else favorably DOESN’T mean that we start thinking or saying that it’s ok to steal things, or commit crimes or do other sins, God forbid! All these things are still strictly forbidden.
But what we do need to try to do is to change the way we view a person who does bad things, and to understand that they are not fundamentally a ‘bad’, depraved person. Rather, they are an unfortunate Jew who experienced a whole bunch of difficult things, and who somehow became ‘distanced’ from their soul, and from Hashem, as a result.
And often, this wasn’t really their fault.
When we look at others with a good eye, we enable Heaven to also start to look at that person with a good eye, too, and to start judging them favorably. When this happens, a huge light of teshuva starts to shine down upon them, and doors are opened to enable them to come closer to Hashem.
We’ve seen on so many occasions that when this light of teshuva shines down on a Jew, even if they happen to be the furthest away they could possibly be, they will immediately drop everything, and run as fast as they can to come back to their Abba in Heaven.
Rabbi Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin said:
The way that the Moshiach will bring the geula is by judging all the Jewish souls favorably. And by doing this, Hashem will also judge Am Yisrael favorably, and that’s how we’ll get the geula.
May it happen speedily, in our days.