Jul 6, 2010

Follow-up post about Judging

Previously, I wrote (see here) about the tension between the injunction to judge others favorably while not fudging on what's right and wrong and rebuking others when the halacha says to do so.  Note - When it says in Pirkei Avos to judge others favorably it is telling us: Yes, judge them! How? Favorably.

I am astonished and amused time and again when in conversation, someone piously repeats the popular mantra of our times, "I'm not judging anyone ..." while proceeding to do just that! See for yourself.  The next time someone tells you, "Far be it for me to judge," or "Who am I to judge?" see if they actually do judge nevertheless. 

I don't think it's because they mean to be hypocritical, espousing a standard but not living up to it.  I think it's because they are mindlessly repeating a line without acknowledging that our human intellect is constantly observing and sorting the information it takes in.  It is dishonest (and they don't seem to realize it) to eschew judging when our critical faculties judge as automatically as we breathe and quite silly to disdain judging while judging! Aren't they judging others negatively when they say, "You are being judgmental"? They might say, no, I am simply observing that you are judging, but where does that get us ... Anybody can claim they were just making an observation and not, G-d forbid, judging anyone.

Bottom line:

The human condition is that we are discerning and this is good as it says, "Im ein daas, havdala minayin?" (If there is no daas-understanding, how can you differentiate between things?). 

Actions can and should be judged as right or wrong, according to halacha.

There are times to judge favorably, times we can be neutral, times to judge negatively (see previous post on the subject).  There are times to rebuke others.

As for the statement, "Do not judge your fellow until you reach his place," that means we can never fully understand another person since they grew up differently than us (even within the same family) and were given a unique set of genes, drives, Yetzer Hara, understanding and circumstances and therefore we cannot come to conclusions about their motivations.   Hashem can.

1 comment:

  1. There are judgments and there are choices. The service in a certain store may be slow and there may be a valid reason for that, so while I may be wrong in judging the store owner negatively, if I am in a rush, I have the choice to shop where the service is better.