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…and judge every person to the side of merit

Ethics of the Fathers 1:6

Sometimes it is extremely difficult to judge another person favorably. That person might have committed a certain deed or he might possess a certain trait which, try as we might, we cannot see in a positive light. At such times, it is important to remember that there is more to this person than that particular trait or deed. If we learn to appreciate his positive qualities, the negative ones will be more tolerable and forgivable.

The Ethics of the Fathers alludes to this approach when it says, “Judge every person to the side of merit.” The Hebrew phrase es kol ha’adam, which the Ethics uses for “every person,” literally means “the whole person.” If we view the whole person rather than focus on the parts that are wanting, we will surely find much that is meritorious.[1]

This is an excerpt from “Beyond the Letter of the Law” by Yanki Tauber published by The Meaningful Life Center.

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[1]. Told by Rabbi Moshe Rubin, The Albany Haggadah, p. 27.

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