Thursday, January 26, 2012

Giving the benefit of the doubt

The Tora instructs us to judge people giving them the benefit of the doubt. By doing this, we fulfill a very important Mitzva:betzedeq tishpot amitekha (Vayiqra 19:18) and we also prevent one of the main triggers of Lashon haRa.  Many times, we might be misjudging people's actions or attitudes toward us.  The Mitzvah of giving the benefit of the doubt consists in stopping our own negative thoughts before they become resentment or hatred  in our heart. 

Illustration: A rabbi was giving a speech. In the last row Mr. Cohen, a respected member of the community is seating with a stranger. They seem to be good friends. While the rabbi is speaking, he notices that the two of them don't stop talking. The rabbi is a little upset. The talking continues. Actually every time the rabbi says something, Mr. Cohen makes a comment to his friend, without even trying to hide it! The rabbi considers stopping his speech and demand from Mr. Cohen to be silent. But he knows this will greatly embarrass Mr. Cohen in public, and decides to continue. You can see in the Rabbi's face that he is very irritated.

As soon as he finished his speech the rabbi walks directly to Mr. Cohen, ready to reprimand him for his disrespect. To the rabbi's surprise Mr. Cohen came smiling toward him and before the rabbi could pronounce a word Mr. Cohen says "Dear rabbi, what a great speech! As always, I enjoyed every word. Let me introduce you to my cousin, Gerard. He is from France and he does not understand a word of English. But, I translated to him your whole speech and he was very impressed".

(Based on a true story)

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