Rewards of Goodness

Discussion Forum

Rewards of Goodness
Challenge Scenario

Somerset Maughm said "No good deed goes unpunished." So a "mitzvah" can sometimes also lead to resentment. You have a relative who needs financial help. How can you help them with out them ending up resenting it?


In his book Give and Take, Adam Grant says there are Givers–generous, Matchers—will give if assured of return, and Takers–who may pretend to be the other to, but are predatory. He gives some guidelines.

  1. Don’t give to takers, they will suck you dry. Recognize them by their egotism.
  2. Give consistently, but limit your time, and take care of your own business.

Do you have other guidelines for yourself?

Your Experience

When you have done generous acts for others, did it lead to your helping them more? Did it lead to their returning the favor—or “paying it forward” to others? The idea of sin leading to sin is illustrated by addiction, and also by the cycle of vencence. Have you observed either of these? Lessons?

Modern commentary – berkson

Judge every person in a favorable light.

Hebrew is literally, “Be judging every person to the pan of merit”—the pan of merit or innocence being one of the two pans in the scales of justice. A number of stories in Avot de-Rabbi Natan and the Talmud make clear what this means: we should try to construct interpretations of events that are favorable to the people involved and charitably interpret their intentions.

Does this rule mean that we always should judge everyone favorably? Maimonides wouldn’t go so far. In his commentary on this mishnah, he distinguishes three cases: If we don’t know a person’s reputation, we should judge him or her favorably. When we know the person has a good reputation, we should give him or her the benefit of the doubt, even if an action of his or hers looks bad. However, if the person has a bad reputation, we should not trust him or her to do right, even if his or her actions look good.

More: PDF

Classic commentaries – goldin

Judge every person with the scale rated in his favor. (1:6)

There was once a young girl who had been taken captive and two saintly folk went after her to ransom her. One of them entered the harlots’ apartment. When he came out he asked his companion: “What didst thou suspect me of?” The other replied: “Of finding out perhaps for how much money she is being held.” Said the first: “By the Temple service, so it was!” And he added: “Even as thou didst judge me with the scale weighted in my favor, so may the Holy One, blessed be He, judge thee with the scale weighted in thy favor” (ARN).

More: PDF