Judging Favorably

Comment

This important study conducted jointly in the U.S. and Israel shows that to "arrive in the other person's place," as Hillel urges us to do before making judgments, trying to imagine what the other person is thinking is not very effective.

Comment

I find Goldin a little hard to understand.  For instance, the following from his commentary on this topic 'If Not I for myself, Who Then?' ..."That is why one who does good is rewarded and one who transgresses is punished: for if our actions were determined by Heaven and not by ourselves, if man were compelled to do what he does, it would not be just to reward those who do good and to punish those who transgress (Aknin)". What is being said here, surely Heaven does not reward or punish.

Replies

Real name
Donald Koller

Donald Koller replied 1 month 2 weeks ago

My interpretation is slightly different. It is just that Heaven rewards a person who does good and punishes a person who transgresses, but only if Heaven does not compel the person to choose one or the other. So, we are confirming that Heaven is just. This does not exclude Heaven rewarding or punishing, rather we are being assured that Heaven is just. The conclusion that "what is 'just' can be viewed in many different ways and may not be a consequence of specific actions" is still a good statement. But, I would clarify that determining whether an action is just is indeed determined by that act and its consequences.

Real name
William Berkson

William Berkson replied 1 month 1 week ago

The initial PDF of the Classic Commentaries was a mistake, as the quotes go with another topic. Now the correct PDF is up.  

Comment

Judging in a favorable light is regarded in the Talmud as one of the key acts of kindness that we both enjoy the fruits of in this life, and are stored up as principal for the world to come. There is a list of these in the traditional prayer book, the Siddur, based on the Talmudic passages. But for some reason Judging Favorable does not appear in the list in the Siddur, which includes honoring father and mother, deeds of kindness, welcoming guests, visiting the sick, etc. I'd love to know why it's missing. Seems like a serious mistake to me.  

Comment

At Shabbat 116a, Rabbi Tarfon says that he would burn the books of heretics, even when they contain God’s name. Rambam, at Hil. Yesode Hatorah 6:8, holds that that applies to a sefer torah written by a Jewish apikoros, but that books written by Akum which contain Divine Names should be buried. Anything involving the burning of books is a fraught matter. The original reference may have been to the Gospels (Evangelion = aven gilyon), and, by many people’s standards, I would be considered an apikoros.

Replies

Real name
William Berkson

William Berkson replied 1 month 2 weeks ago

For those not familiar with Talmudic terms, 'akum' is an acronym for the Hebrew meaning "worshipers of the stars and planets", i.e., pagans. But particularly with censorship to forestall Christian persecution, it was sometimes substituted for the original 'notzrim', Christians. So it often means 'believers in a non-Jewish religion', and that probably is the meaning in the passages Rabbi Elkins refers to. "Apicuros" is the Hebrew for "Epicurean." This Greek sect denied divine purpose in the world, and the term became a name for atheists.