Last week we explained the prohibition of hatred and how to become free of resentment by communicating to the offender our feelings and emotions.
The best antidote to 'prevent' hatred, however, is the fulfillment of a very important Mitsvah. 'Giving the benefit of the doubt' (betsedek tishpot amitekha).
Illustration: I'm coming out the supermarket with a many shopping bags. I don't have a car. When, I'm about to cross the street to take the bus, I see my next door neighbor (who knows I don't have a car!) driving by, and to my disappointment he does not stop to offer me a ride...
My first impulse is to think "What a bad guy!". That thought naturally triggers feelings of hatred (Torah prohibition # 1), resentment (# 2), seeking revenge (#3) and eventually will lead me to comment on his terrible behavior to my friends and family! (# 4).
Judging with the benefit of the doubt consists on stopping 'negative' thoughts in my mind before they become hatred, resentment, revenge and Lashon haRa.
How? I must force myself to have a second positive thought, a 'possible' reason which would excuse his behavior. Why didn't he stop?May be he didn't see me. Or may be he wasn't going home, but to the doctor or to pick up his son. I must focus my mind to advocate my neighbor!
Giving the benefit of the doubt aborts the whole negative emotional process: hatred/revenge/Lashon haRa before it becomes unstoppable.
MUST READ for PARENTS! (from Aish):
Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC 130 Steamboat Rd. Great Neck NY 11024