We are stretching in ahavas yisrael together to create z’chusim for K’lal Yisrael in these urgent times.
Last week’s stretch of the week was: Help another person give the benefit of the doubt to someone else.
Please allow ONE person to share her experience with this exercise for ONE minute.
Taking A Deeper Look - Lesson #12
B’TZEDEK TISHPOT AMISECHA - JUDGE YOUR FELLOW WITH RIGHTEOUSNESS
PART 3 - Keep your Display Window Clean/The Upside of Being Under Suspicion?
Up to this point, we have clarified the obligations of the person who observes the wrongdoing. But the person who is doing an act in public has an obligation of his own – to avoid doing things that will rouse the suspicion of others. Chazal say that it is our responsibility to make sure we appear blameless in people’s eyes, just as we must be blameless in the eyes of HaShem, as the passuk states, “You shall be blameless before HaShem and Yisrael” (Bamidbar 32, 22). Several examples of this principle are found in the Gemara and poskim, and other cases are cited where we are prohibited to act in certain ways because of mar’is ayin – the way others will view our actions. Therefore, when it is necessary to act in public in a manner that is likely to rouse suspicion, we should give those around us an explanation for our actions.
Ordinarily, we are advised not to publicize our sins – they are to remain between us and HaShem. However, in a case where someone else is under suspicion for having committed a wrong for which I am responsible, the proper thing to do would be to admit one’s sin in order to clear the other persons of suspicion. The Gemara tells of great people who admit to wrongdoing even when they were not to blame, in order to save the true culprit from shame. (Mishpetei Hashalom 1:20-21)
No ones likes to be erroneously suspected of wrongdoing, but it is interesting to note that Chazal tell us that the extreme discomfort of such a situation may be worthwhile since the victim will be well rewarded: “Let my portion be with those who are suspected of something they have not done”. (Shabbos 118B)
These words of Chazal are comforting to the victim who was suspected, but they do not exonerate the one who wrongly suspects. He is still obligated to conciliate the person he suspected and even to go a step further by giving him a hearty blessing. However, if he never expressed his suspicions but only harbored them in this mind, or even if he expressed them but the person he suspected did not find out about them, then he should not ask his forgiveness (since he will simply cause the victim unnecessary aggravation). (Mishpetei Hahalom 1:19)
(Excerpts from The Code of Jewish Conduct by Rabbi Yitzchok Silver)
Story: (based on a true story)
Our family and a few guests were all sitting around the table enjoying our Shabbos day meal when suddenly we heard a loud knock at the door.
“Come in,” I shouted as we continued entertaining our guests, assuming it was one of our children’s friends. We proceeded with our conversation forgetting the interruption. One minute later, we heard the knock again.
“Come on in!” my husband shouted, this time louder than I had done the first time. Still no response from the other side of the door. Since we were so busy with a house full of relatives and friends we quickly forgot to investigate who had entered and assumed the mystery guest had entered and proceeded to play with the kids.
KNOCK, KNOCK! “What an annoying nuisance,” I thought to myself. “Does this kid need a personal door opener? I found myself thinking, actually judging, saying to myself, ‘can’t they listen and open the door themselves. Don’t they realize we’re busy in here with all this company?” I could hear the annoyance in my voice.
When the knock came a fourth time, I reached my tolerance point. Out of sheer frustration, I stomped to the door and flung it open, ready to give this kid a piece of my mind. Instead, I was greeted with a big smile by our dear friend Kalman, an old chavrusa of my husband, who had long suffered from a major hearing loss and had come to pay us a surprise visit. This was the ultimate lesson in humility, embarrassment, and patience for me. After giving him a warm welcome and seating him at the table, I returned to my guests and said “I think I just learned an important lesson. Never ever make assumptions about anything.” Everyone gave a chuckle but deep inside I knew this lesson was tailor made for me. Before our dear friend left, I searched deep within myself and formulated a heartfelt bracha (even though this was not halachically required) for the man who had brought HaShem’s message to my conscious mind loud and clear.
Discussion Question Options:
Can you think of any examples of things people do that put others in the position of having to judge them favorably when they really aren’t doing anything wrong in the first place?
Why should we care about others erroneously thinking we are doing something wrong?
Why do Chazal say: “Let my portion be with those who are suspected of something they have not done”. (Shabbos 118B). Why is the reward so great for being falsely suspected?
Stretch of the Week:
Be sure to give a bracha to someone you have mistakenly blamed. (This includes children!)