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God Judges Us How We Judge Others

Updated: Mar 22, 2023

Today’s #HighHolideas is dedicated to the aliyah (elevation) of the neshama (soul) of Elimelech Ben Basya, the young grandson of my Rabbi in L.A. who was struggling with cancer and passed away this morning.

How can we ask G-d to be merciful on us if we are not merciful to others?

Human beings are “Tzelem Elokim,” made in the image of G-d. One aspect of this is that we are judged by G-d in the same manner that we judge other people. The Torah teaches that if a person generally judges others harshly and speaks badly about them, then he will have a harsher judgment, whereas if one judges others favorably, then G-d will judge him favorably.[1]

The Torah also teaches that we can never judge someone until we stand in his shoes.[2] Yet we never do really stand in someone else’s shoes because never know exactly what is going on with that person. I recently read a quote that expresses this idea beautifully: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”[3]

The reward for judging favorably and letting go of the hurt someone caused you, especially at this time of year, is immense. In the Talmud, it states that on Rosh Hashanah, G-d passes over and forgives all of the sins of those who pass over the sins committed against them! In addition, one may actually merit a longer life, beyond the years he was initially granted, for acting in this manner.[4] If we are not exacting on others, G-d will not be exacting with us.

How can we begin to judge favorably and let go of past hurts?

Resource Suggestion: The Other Side of the Story (This is a great, free two-page handout that tells a few short stories to bring out lessons of how we can begin to go about judging favorably and letting go of grudges.)

Book Suggestion: The Other Side of the Story (Unrelated to the link above, this book goes deeper. It has 180 true stories that show how we can be too quick to judge others’ behavior. The book also offers practical suggestions for judging favorably).

[1] Rabbi Mayer Birnbaum, Pathway to Prayer, p. 132, (citing the Talmud, Shabbat 97a, 127b and Shemirat HaLashon 2:4.)

[2] Pirkei Avos 2:5 (“Don’t judge a friend until you reach his place.”- Hillel)

[4] Rabbi Shimon Finkelman and Rabbi Yitzhak Berkowitz, Chofetz Chaim, A Lesson A Day, volume II, p.281-283, (citing Rosh Hashanah 17a.)

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