JUDGING OTHERS FAVORABLY
(A Chasidishe Story )
Rav Abraham Joseph Twerski, in his book Generation to Generation tells the following story:
Tisha B'Av the Rebbe of Berdichov came accross an obviously non-observant
Jew who was eating.
It says in the Parsha that always falls out the Shabbos before (except when it falls out on) Tisha B'Av(Dev. 1:17) that a judge is not to favor a greater person more then a lesser person, he must listen to them equally, Ki HaMishpat LeElokim Hu, because judgement is God's.
Rav Soloveichik said that if one looks at the technicalities involved in the Jewish court system, he will see that it is almost impossible to ever impose the death penalty. For example, a person has to be warned that what he is about to do is punishable by death within a few seconds of doing it (Toch Keday Dibbur). If he waits five seconds after being warned, then does it, he cannot be killed! We have many statements in the Gemarah to this effect. A court that kills once in seventy years is called a bloody court! Rabbi Akiva said that if it were up to him, no one would EVER be killed! Judgement is God's, not man's. The only reason man judges, is to keep the world in order.
A similar consept is found in Pirkei Avos (4:10): "Do not judge alone, because none judge alone except for Echad." The commentators explain it means that no one can judge alone except for God.
Hanoch Teller wrote a book which he called Courtrooms of the Mind. In it, he relates numerous stories demonstrating the value of judging others favorably (See Pirkei Avos 1:6). In the introduction he explains that he chose this title because our mind is where we judge people. We have a prosecutor in there and sometimes a defense attorney, who put forth all the evidence that we wish to see. All too often the prosecutor has an easy case.
To quoote Reb Shlomo Carlbach, "Everyone knows the holy Temple was destroyed because of Sinas Chinam," baseless hatred. The Gemarah says that the second Temple was destroyed because people hated each other for no reason. Many since then have said, "If it was destroyed through baseless hatred, it can only be rebuilt through unconditional love, Ahavas Chinam."
When we commemorate the day in which BOTH of our holy Temples were destroyed, we should make a marked effort to rebuild it. The place to start is unconditional love for each and every Jew, whether he or she is religious or not, a nice person or not... We must realize that in the courts, no one can judge alone except God. No human can understand fully why someone else acts a certain way, or leads a certain lifestyle. It's not up to us to judge others. It's up to us to love each other unconditionally, and through that, merit the arrival of the Mashiach quickly, in our days.