Monday, March 28, 2011

"Remember, people are always a little bit better than they appear to be."

These were the words of Rabbi Beni. We were sitting in Starbucks on King (and Beaufain, not Calhoun, for you Charlestonians) last week, studying a book called the Pirkei Avot, or the "Ethics of the Fathers." These ethics are the oral teachings of well-known rabbis from the past (from as far back as 2,000 years!). Beni thought I'd enjoy reading them because they deal much with how people should treat each other.

We came upon a teaching that said something like, "and, you should judge men favorably." Let me just tell you that I could drink a whole cup of coffee in the time it takes to decipher a line as seemingly simple as this one. Questions arise like: Which men are they referring to? Why is the word "judged" used? In the original Hebrew version, what word is actually used? When is it okay (or not okay) to judge? What do they mean by "favorably?" Anyway, y'all get the picture of how much of a critical mind we are forced to use!  

We came to the conclusion that "judging someone favorably" might mean giving someone the benefit of the doubt. Such a good proposition, right?!

Now as pretty and peaceful as non-judging sounds, it is unrealistic. We need to form opinions of people in order for us to decide who we wish to become closer to; however, these opinions should be well-formed, and not spread around! (Okay, I know it's tempting to do so when we're with our best friends, but it really isn't a good thing!). 

That being said, I think it behooves us all to give people the benefit of the doubt; if we don't, we might be miscalculating them, and then we'd both be missing out on what could be a fruitful, meaningful connection.

1 comment:

Lauren Frances Moore said...

very nice! steve and i were having a similar conversation the other day... picking apart that word "judge" and all its implications.