Being Judgmental of Others

More than once I have come across Jews who I felt looked down upon me for not being as observant as they, and don’t respect me as a Jew. I got the impression I am not a good person in their eyes because I don’t keep the rituals like they do.

Do you feel they have the right to be judgmental?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Unfortunately, there are some Jews who consider themselves observant who are judgmental. This attitude, however, has no source in Judaism, is quite contrary to Jewish teachings, and should be condemned. Judaism teaches that only God has the right and the ability to judge people.

To illustrate: There was once a young man who became the leader of a Chassidic group when his father died an untimely death. The elders approached him and asked how it is possible for such a young man to be the leader of those much older than himself. He answered with a parable. Two men trained for many months to climb a very high mountain. After weeks of climbing, they got to the end of their strength, and stopped to rest on a plateau. They were shocked to see a young boy playing and chasing butterflies. They asked him in amazement, how did you get here?! We spent grueling weeks to arrive at this point, and you are playing here! The boy replied, “My friends, I was born here!”

The point of the story is twofold. It is true that some are born into higher levels of scholarship and piety. However, those who climb the mountain to get to where the others were born are much higher in the eyes of God. They achieved it through their own efforts and toil.

It is possible that one mitzvah performed by a Jew brought up in a secular home is worth a hundred mitzvot performed by a Jew who was born into observance.

The Talmud says that one Jew cannot kill another, even to save his own life. This applies even if you are the most pious of Jews and the other Jew is a thief, a drug addict or even a murderer. The reason, says the Talmud, is that we can never know “whose blood is redder.” There is no way for mortal man to judge another and to know who is considered more dear or valuable in the eyes of God.

The true Torah philosophy of life is to respect every Jew for whom he is, and to leave judgment to the Almighty.

Condescending attitudes are certainly not unique to any particular sect of Jews. You can find the same attitudes, at times, with Republicans to Democrats, or sports fans. It comes from a human need to “be right.”

Our job is to view every Jew as a family member, and every human being as created in the “image of God.” We should learn what we can from everyone. The Jewish Sages expressed it thusly: “There is no man who does not have his place and time.”

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