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Friday, August 8, 2008

Judging Good and Bad

In todays Chok Bresluv we learned Sefer Hamidos – Harchakus Rishuim – distancing from evil people, in Simon Vuv (sixth principle), 'whoever judges an evil person favorably, he to is called an evil person' (ספר המידות – ערך הרחקת רשעים סימן ו', ז"ל מי שמלמד זכות על רשע, גם הוא נקרא רשע, ע"כ). The question is how does this not contradict the famous teaching of Rabbi Nachman (Likutay Moharan 282) to always judge everyone, even the most evil person, favorably, and in fact in today's Chok this teaching is brought down in Likutay Eitzos ( ישתדל בכל כחו למצא זכות וטוב בכל אחד מישראל, ואפילו אם נדמה, חס ושלום, לרשע, ישתדל למצא בו נקודות טובות ששם אינו רשע, עד שיהיה כל אחד מישראל יפה ונאה בעיניו, ע"ש).
Here are a few possible solutions. The first, one following the teachings of Rabbainu will judge even an evil person favorably even though for this itself he himself will be call evil, even still he will be loyal to the teachings of Rabbainu and in the end, both will be found righteous.
A second possible solution, which I once heard applied to a similar contradiction found by the Berditchiver, when judging a person in one's own mind or in solitary communication with G-d it is necessary to realize and decide the goodness, however the person being judged should not be complimented or shown off to others.
A third possible solution, from the language of the Likutay Eitzos it seems that the evil things done are not to be judged favorably, rather they should not be paid attention, attention should be paid only to finding good points, and by concentrating only on seeing the good points all the bad will fall away or be turned around. So it is definitely in place to say that it is forbidden to judge an evil person favorably, and whoever does so will also be called evil, what should be done is to find the good things that the evil person did, and judge that good to his and its favor.
The first solution we will call cute, and consider it of the derech of Ishbitz, the second we will call yeshivish and what that means depends on who we're addressing.... The third solution seems to be right on the money.
Over two years have past since I wrote this post I am reviewing it on the same day I learned Likutay Moharan Tora 55, which teaches that in order to be saved from the evil eye of the evil one has to judge them favorably, and to this end even G-d judges them favorably, in order to save the righteous from their evil eyes. This teaching seems to me non comparable to what what discussed above, because it is clear in Tora 55 that even though the evil are to be judged favorably that is just in term of their success, that is to say that the judgement isn't whether or not they are wicked or righteous, they are for sure evil, the judgement is whether or not they should be successful. However this might not be so simple and it need much more thought and consideration.

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