Thoughts from Kollel KLAL

Aseres Yimei Teshuva- Judge favorably

On Rosh Hashanah, I sat behind the person who blows shofar. On the 2nd night of Rosh Hashanah, he asks me, “What do you use for shehechiyanu, do you have any spare shehechiyanu fruits for me?” I wondered, why didn’t he prepare a shehechiyanu fruit? I thought, maybe he was busy with his other responsibilities. He also davens p’sukei d’zimra, sets up the aquarium for tashlich, and brings his family to join the Yeshiva from afar. Maybe he didn’t have time to prepare. After davening I heard him asking the same question to a number of other people, it was a bit strange. During the following morning’s p’skuei d’zimra, I noticed someone putting a new fruit on his shtender and another handed him a new fruit, and he put them in his shofar bag. A 3rd person asked him whether he needed a shehechiyanu fruit, and he replied “Yes, it would be helpful.” This was unusual and surprising, how many shehechiyanu fruits does one need? After davening, I thanked him for the tekiyos, and praised him, bli ayin harah, 200 for 200, and then I questioned, “I was wondering if you could fit your shofar in the bag together with all the shehechiyanu fruits?” He responded, when I blow for the women, I don’t know which shehechiyanu fruit each family used. I try to collect a variety of shehechiyanu fruits to make sure there will be a new fruit for their shehechiyanu.” We see, even with things that seem strange and wonderous, there still can be a chesbon why they are done.

The Gemara brings there is a mitzva to judge favorably as it states “בצדק תשפוט עמיתך, with righteousness, judge your friend.” If one sees an ordinary person doing an act which can be equally judged for good or bad, judge him for good. If one sees a tzadik doing an act which tilts towards bad, even so, judge him favorably. The Gemara brings a few stories about judging favorably and ends, “just as you judged me favorably, so too, Hashem should judge you favorably.” The reward for judging favorably is that Hashem will also judge you favorably. There is a pressing question; when I see someone doing something I do not know exactly why, it is understandable that I am required to judge him favorably, for the better side of the doubt. However, Hashem has absolutely no doubt, everything is known. If so, what does it mean that Hashem will judge a person favorably?

HaRav Chaim Kaniyevsky zatzal answers this based on a Gemara which brings: even if a person has 999 angels speaking out bad against him and one speaking out on behalf of him good, he will be saved; as it states: “אם יש עליו מלאך מליץ אחד מני אלף להגיד לאדם ישרו ויחננו ויאמר פדעהו מרדת שחת, if there is one out of 1,000 angels speaking good, saying the straightness of a person, he will be redeemed and saved from going to gehinom.” Rebi Eliezer says even if there one side of the same angel who speaks out good on his behalf vs. 999 sides of bad, he will be saved. The Maharsha asks how is it possible that one action can have 999 sides for bad and one for a merit? Rav Kanievsky answered, actions of a person can be for different intentions, as in the story with Chana and Penina. The Gemara brings that Penina intended for the sake of Hashem. An example is with a person who works; why does he work? It can be because he loves making money to be wealthy, or because he has a responsibility to support his wife and family, or because he wants to assist Torah and help the needy, and so on. Since in each action there are many sides for good and for bad, if a person will judge favorably, Hashem will also focus on the good side of his actions and judge him favorably.

HaRav Aryeh Finkel zatzal answered differently: the reason why Hashem will judge a person favorably is because it is a הנהגה. The way a person acts with his friend is how Hashem will act with you. True, Hashem knows why you did what you did, but He will mirror and reflect as your action with others.

Let us judge others favorably and merit to be judged by Hashem favorably!

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