“you should judge your neighbor righteously”
the “b’tzedek” here, in this quote from Leviticus 19:15, is translated righteously and not as justly to reflect our interinclusion for this day of the Omer, tiferet in gevurah, or balance, harmony, compassion in judgement, restraint, limitation. tzedek can, of course, be both words, but the aspect of righteousness (NOT self-righteousness, mind you) is more balanced than ‘just’ may sometimes be seen as being. we all know too well that what may be legally correct is not always a deep justice, ie, righteousness, but merely a thinner layer of justice…and we mean righteousness herein.
the question is whether our interinclusion of tiferet in gevurah calls on us to go further….perhaps requiring us to go as far as Yehoshua ben Perachia in saying, “judge everyone favorably” (Pirkei Avot 1:6). Rav Aryeh Levin once quipped (but with Torah intent) that G’d made everything for a purpose, even “krum svara”, ‘twisted logic’, served the purpose of helping us to always be able to judge another favorably, even in the most difficult circumstances! and the Chafetz Chaim, perhaps the greatest master of the laws of avoiding evil speech, goes even further, pointing out that lashon hara should be stopped at the level of unspoken thought. to never pass a negative judgement in your mind is the ideal way to do the mitzvah of judging righteously. even if the issue is 50-50, you must come down on the side of the good in your judgement….and even if it is MORE likely to be judged negative by a normal person, it would be better to leave the doubt in the matter unresolved in your mind.
and the Besht comes down even more strongly by pointing out that we are best at recognizing our own faults in others, hence, before we decide to judge another negatively, we should examine our own fault in the trait…..only after we have rectified it in ourselves are we ‘permitted’ to judge another. BUT even then the same compassion that we applied to ourselves we must apply to our neighbor, hence instead of judging, we focus on how we can most compassionately help the person improve as we ourselves did.
the negative judgement is left undone.
this is the effect of tiferet in gevurah. the Sages teach us the way of savlanut (‘patience’):
“As G’d is called compassionate and gracious, so should you be compassionate and gracious; as G’d is called righteous, so should you be righteous; as G’d is called holy, so should you be holy. ”
when your greater goal is compassion, even your severity of judgement must be more situational than you might think to be ‘justice’.
mussar for tiferet she b’gevurah
tiferet-gevurah with another….bein adam l’chaveiro in spite of giving the benefit of the doubt, we are also mitzvah bound to gently reprove another when they have clearly done wrong. getting the right balance of restraint and release is the challenge. be compassionate in reproving another who has wronged you….remember that there must be love even in discipline.
tiferet-gevurah with yourself….bein adam l’atzmo we are subject to conflicting emotions within ourselves. how do we judge them? and judge between them? take the core compassionate step and try to more deeply understand why your internal conflicts persist. find the validity in what you might have thought to be wrong….judge the persistence of the conflict within yourself favorably!
kabbalah for tiferet she b’gevurah
in assiyah….the world of doing/completion we use harmony in discernment when we love through our self-restraint. …when we avoid the negative judgement if at all possible. in Ashrei we learn that G’d “opens up G’d’s hand and satisfies every living thing,” even the evildoer. consider how to approach your day with an open hand and not a clenched fist.
in yetzirah….the world of feeling/formation gevurah is also strength and power. there are times when we have to correct misjudgement of another. when we have to take responsibility for a wrong we did that others may not have known….these too are opportunities to get at tiferet by using gevurah. consider whether there are ‘things unsaid’ or ‘wrongful thoughts to right’ that require strength of will on your part. visualize how you will approach them with compassion, then set out to do them.
in b’riyah….the world of thought/creation teshuvah (‘repentance and return to G’d’) requires supreme strength. asking forgiveness when one has allowed i’m sorry to go unsaid for a long period demands great focus and diligent strength. yet we know that without it we cannot, simply cannot get ‘right’ with G’d. there is no crutch to fall back on. tikkun olam (‘repair of the world’) requires more than anything else that we discern (an act of judgement) the balance that was lost in the brokenness of the world. where is the discord and disharmony in your life? can you, through greater tolerance–to yourself, to your neighbor, to your children, to your spouse–effect a repair? can you through restraint of judgement grow compassion in your heart, thereby learning not to harden your heart in ways you may be accustomed to?
in atzilut….the world of nearness to G’d/intuition you may pray today the amidah. you will begin: “open my lips, G’d, that my mouth may declare Your Praise.” do we ever ask thereafter to have them shut? to cut off praise? consider this.
kinyan 10 of 48 ways to acquire Torah
Dibuk Chaverim….Closeness with Friends. we did not mention it yesterday, but the day of gevurah in gevurah is also the day on which King David surrendered 7 sons of Shaul to the Gibeonites, who killed them and hung their carcasses up in public to ‘make amends’ for Shaul’s killing of Gibeonite civilians during the battles against David. this is hard to understand…it is like Aharon’s making of the Golden Calf….and act we can scarcely imagine doing ourselves. of course, we were not in the situation and cannot walk in their shoes in their time, so can we judge? however, David did do a positive good in the offspring of Shaul that he reserved from slaughter–Mephiboshet, son of Jonathan, grandson of Shaul, was not given over. why? out of respect for the bond between him and Jonathan….the closeness of friends even after death.:
“and it came to pass that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul….” (1 Samuel 18:1)
in the love of friends, we may learn more about how to do the Torah of loving your neighbor as yourself.