The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Judging Favorably

For the past five years I have been attending a morning minyan where one of my friends has been coming between 12 and 18 minutes late virtually every single day! It drives me crazy. Although I have ocassionally teased him about it over the years, what I really want to do is grab him by the shoulders, shake him and say: "Hello! How about setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier!!! (On second thought, I know that wouldn't work anyway. I suspect my friend does set his alarm earlier but is a serial snooze button pusher. 2 x 9 minutes gets you 18!)

Every time my friend walks by me my first inclination is to judge him unfavorably. I simply can't understand how someone who is otherwise careful in his observance of mitzvos can't overcome such a seemingly simple problem. Then I try to remind myself of the teaching of one of the great tzadikim. He says that when a person is put in a situation of being able to judge his neighbor, it is really G-d testing him. If you judge the person favorably, G-d will judge you favorably in similar situations. If you judge harshly, you will be judged that way by the Master of the Universe.

It's true that I can't understand chronic lateness. (Although I have many faults tardiness is not one of them). But then I think to myself: How many times have I been faced with a situation where I can either engage in loshon harah or refrain from speaking loshon harah and I am to weak to hold myself back? Why is that any different from my friend's lateness to shul? (G-d must be thinking (so to speak)..."what's with that guy...can't he shut up just once??")

So, I try hard to give my friend the benefit of the doubt, thank him in my mind for causing me to think about my own shortcomings, and try to work on those many characteristics of mine that could use some work.


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