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Tuesday, Sivan 15, 5782 / June 14, 2022


Amongst the many wonderful lessons in Pirkei Avot (Chapters of our Fathers) we find the following instructions: Yehoshua ben Prachya says, “You should judge every person favorably.” Hillel the Elder says, “Do not judge your fellow until you find yourself in his place.


Most people find it easier to judge others than themselves. Judging others favorably is not only a good character trait and beneficial to the person being judged, but also rewarding to the one who is judging.  The Talmud tells us, “One who judges his fellowman favorably, he too, will be judged favorably.”


The Talmud tells the following story: There was a man who hired himself out to a wealthy man to work for three years.  At the end of the three years, he came to his boss and said, “Give me my wages so that I can go back and feed my wife and children.”


His owner said: “I have no money!”  “Then give me produce of your field, instead,” said the worker.  “I have no produce to give,” he replied.  “Then give me a piece of your land, or some cattle.”  “I don’t have that either,” he replied.  “In that case, give me pillows and bedding for the value of my work,” begged the worker.  “I don’t have any,” replied the owner.  At this point the worker took his personal belongings and went home in despair.


A while later, the landowner took the wages he owed the man and in addition loaded up three donkeys with food, drinks and delicacies and came to his former employee’s home.  He gave him his wages in full, plus all the extras he brought with him.


He then asked his employee, “You saw that I was a wealthy man. When you asked for your wages and I told you I didn’t have any money, what did you think?”


“I thought that you must have come upon a very good deal and used up all your money.”


“And when you asked me for cattle or land instead and I said I didn’t have any, what did you think of me?”


“I thought your cattle and land were rented out to others.”


“When I told you I have no produce, what did you suspect me of?”


“I thought, perhaps you didn’t give the tithes from the produce yet, so you couldn’t give me any of it.”


“When I said I had no pillows or bedding, what did you think of me then?”


“I thought, maybe you made a pledge to give them to charity.”


The rich man exclaimed, “YES! It was exactly so, therefore I couldn’t pay you at that time.  I pray that just as you judged me favorably, so too, may the ultimate judge (G-d), judge you always only positively!”