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You Be the Judge

In Bereishis, Perek Mem Vov, posuk chof vov, the posuk tells us that Yaakov sent Yehuda ahead to build a yeshiva in the land of Goshen. Why did Yaakov choose Yehuda for this task? The Midrash Tanchuma in Vayigash, siman tes says that Yaakov thought that Yehuda had killed Yosef. Yehuda was the one who brought the bloody Kesones Pasim to Yaakov. As a result of that Yaakov recognized the tunic and said that a wild animal attacked Yosef, referring to the lion, to which Yehuda was compared. In other words, Yaakov thought that Yehuda killed Yosef. This was so, up to the point when Yosef revealed himself to his brothers. Yehuda was in the clear as soon as Yosef revealed himself, therefore Yaakov sent him to show that he is really innocent and worthy of this job of setting up a yeshiva in Goshen.

A din Torah was once brought before Reb Chaim Volozhiner between a talmid chochom and a simple Jew. Reb Chaim paskened that the simple Jew was in the right. The talmid chochom accepted the psak. Reb Chaim felt that that there was an underlying tarumos (complaint) in that talmid chochom’s heart against Reb Chaim. A while later Reb Chaim approached this talmid chochom with a request. Reb Chaim said he had to leave town that day but there was a din Torah that came before him. Reb Chaim requested that the talmid chochom take his place and pasken the din Torah instead of him. When Reb Chaim came back, the talmid chochom said that he realizes that Reb Chaim paskened correctly regarding his own din Torah since this din Torah was very similar and he went through the sugya and saw that Reb Chaim’s psak was correct. After Reb Chaim Volozhinerwas niftar this talmid chochom approached the plaintiff that he had found guilty and asked him, “Did you follow through with the psak?” The plaintiff responded, “I don’t understand what happened here.” The day before the din Torah Reb Chaim called both plaintiffs into his room and asked them to be part of a mock din Torah the next day. He taught each side their taanos and even gave them the money in question to be used. He had told the two plaintiffs not to reveal this charade. The plaintiff said, “Now that he is no longer alive, I am sure he would not mind my revealing this.”

We learn a wonderful way of judging someone favorably from this story. If someone has a complaint against somebody else, it is best that the person try to put himself in the other person’s position and figure out ways to develop the other person’s view. Reb Chaim was able to put the talmid chochom in an objective position to truly see that the psak given against him was correct. Frequently, we judge people and don’t perceive it from their view causing us to judge others unfavorably. The Chofetz Chaim in Assin Gimmel says that the requirement to judge lekaf zechus is dependent on three types of people. 1. One must judge a person favorably who is muchzak to be a tzaddik, even if it is very far fetched. 2. One must judge an average person favorably if it is fifty/fifty, but it is recommended, not a chiyuv if it is far fetched. 3. There is no chiyuv to be dan lekaf z’chus if a person is known to be a bad person.

May we all judge and be judged favorably