Lesson 14c When must we judge favorably – Loshon horah as a result of judging unfavorably
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Please verbalize or
have in mind that you are studying this material as a merit for a specific
single and/or Jewish singles throughout the world.
When must we judge
our fellow Jew favorably?
- Yesterday, I noticed an acquaintance leaving a store with
a bag of groceries without paying. It seems to me that he’s a thief. May
I share this information with others?
- Before addressing whether you may share this information
or not, we must clarify how are you to judge what you’ve witnessed. There
are 2 factors that need to be taken into consideration:
- What is the nature of the person whom you are suspecting?
a. G-d Fearing
c. Rasha (malicious sinner)
- How suspicious was the incident?
b. More likely favorable
c. More likely unfavorable
If he is a:
G-d fearing individual:
You must judge him favorably under all
If it’s 50% favorable or above, you must judge him
If it’s more likely unfavorable, you are not
required to judge him favorably but it’s preferable to consider it a doubt.
However, it’s a good midda to judge him favorably, even in this circumstance.
You should judge him unfavorably under all
Loshon horah based
on an unfavorable judgment
- If I don’t judge him favorably when I should and I go tell
others what I’ve witnessed, am I committing a sin?
- You are committing at least 2 sins. A) You’re in
violation of the positive commandment to judge your fellow Jew favorably.
B) You have violated the sin of speaking loshon horah and all the
auxiliary sins that come with it.
This section is
formatted as a conversation between Oded and Menaseh. Oded is encouraging his
friend Menaseh to be more careful in guarding his tongue from evil speech. The
thoughts in this section are primarily based on the sefer, Shmiras Haloshon.
Menaseh: Yesterday, you mentioned that a person
should grab onto one mitzvah and excel in it.
Oded: Imagine how great a merit it would be to grab
onto the mitzvah of guarding our tongue!
Menaseh: Why would that be greater than any other
Oded: As you are well aware, the sin of loshon horah
is abandoned by many. The Sefer Chasidim writes that a mitzvah that no one is
looking after is like a Mais Mitzvah; therefore, you should pursue it because
the mitzvah prosecutes and says “look how low I am, I’m practically non-existent”.
Menaseh: What is a Mais Mitzvah?
Oded: A Mais Mitzvah is a dead body that no one is looking
Menaseh: What is the significance of a Mais Mitzvah?
Oded: Taking care of a Mais Mitzvah supersedes other
very important mitzvos.
Menaseh: Such as?
Oded: A Kohen Gadol is forbidden to defile himself,
even for an immediate relative. A Nazir as well is forbidden to defile
himself. In order for one to partake in the Korbon Pesach he must be spiritually
clean. The sin of not bringing a Korbon Pesach carries with it the penalty of
Karais as does the sin of not performing circumcision on your son. A Kohen
Gadol who is a Nazir and is on his way to offer a Korbon Pesach and circumcise
his son, if he was to encounter a Mais Mitzvah; he must violate all of the
above and defile himself by taking care of the Mais Mitzvah. Such is the
importance of a Mais Mitzvah.
Menaseh: Why all the concern over a Mais Mitzvah?
Oded: So that he shouldn’t lie in shame?
Menaseh: But it’s a corpse! It’s no longer alive.
Oded: Even so, since it once housed a holy soul we
must treat the corpse with respect a dignity.
Menaseh: How is the Mitzvah of guarding ones tongue
compared to that?
Oded: Well, as we said, it’s a very neglected
mitzvah. I would venture to say that a neglected mitzvah is an even greater cause
than a Mais Mitzvah.
Oded: Because, as you astutely pointed out, a Mais
Mitzvah only deserves it’s dignity for what it once was. A neglected Mitzvah,
however, deserves dignity for what it currently is; a part of Hashem’s holy
Torah which is His joy and delight. How careful we must be lest that mitzvah
go and prosecute against us, above.
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1) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 3 Par.
2) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 3 Par. 7
Sefer Shmiras Haloshon Section 1 Chasimas HaSefer Chap. 3