Thursday, October 30, 2014

Distinction between social judgment and judgment of beis din Rav Hirsh

In researching my new sefer on judging others versus judgment of beis din I came across this relevant quote from Rav Hirsch (Vayikra 19:15).

For judgment outside the court of justice, for judging our fellows in ordinary life, out of this sentence imposing the duty on the judge to adhere sharply to the absolute facts in all strictness, the Gemora ]Shevuos 30a] there learns the rule:הוי דן את חברך לכף זכות always give the best possible interpretation to all matters concerning your neighbour and judge him to his advantage. This is only apparently in contradiction with the judicial formula. For judgment in a court of justice and social judgment do not serve the same purpose. The former has to test the action solely as to whether it is in accordance with the dictates of justice or not, quite apart from any considerations of the individual circumstances or conditions and without regard to the motives. An action, although it may not be legal, can be entirely excusable and yet at the forum of justice must be judged as punishable. And an action judged by its motive can be stamped as highly vicious and yet legally be within the law and unpunishable. But Society has, on the other hand, above all, the personality, the character, in its eye, and every action is, to it, only a symptom by which to judge the integrity or the reverse of its members. Exactly the same justice which in court banishes personality entirely from the judgment, and judges the action entirely in absolute objectivity, that same justice demands in social life the most meticulous and anxious conscientiousness in considering every possible condition which could make the person and his character appear in a better light, and admonishes:

Be not hasty in throwing mud at anybody's character, always be inclined to find excusing circumstances for all actions! This is the same idea of justice which for social judgment says: אל תדין את חברך עד שתגיע למקומו "Judge not thy neighbour until thou hast been in a similar position" (Aboth II,5). "It differentiates between forensic and social judgment to such an extent that to the judge in civil cases it says: "When the parties stand before you, consider them both in the wrong, but once they have accepted your decision and have left you, regard them both as good men":   כשיהיו בעלי הדין עומדים לפניך יהיו בעיניך  כרשעים וכשנפטרים מלפניך יהיו בעיניך כזכאין כשקבלו עליהם את הדין (Avos 2:5).

1 comment :

  1. Imho one of the biggest problems in relationships, parenting and
    education etc is being judgmental and that is the problem with praise – the judgmental
    nature of praise. We focus too much on how people are doing, how well kids are
    learning instead of just connecting with them and show an interest in what they
    are doing or learning. I usually say that I don't try to judge people favorably
    - I try not to judge people period! And instead of criticism just try some
    neutral description of what you see or help people solve problems or do


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