Don’t Be Judgemental

After we learn of Sara’s death, we are told that Avraham went to eulogize his wife, and cry for her. The word, “לבכותה,” to cry, is written in the Torah, with a small letter “כ.”

Many commentators speculated as to the reason for this unusual spelling. The Baal Haturim gives a powerful message with his explanation. He wrote that the small “כ” hinted to the fact that Avraham only cried a little. He wasn’t allowed to fully mourn for his beloved wife, because she was in the category of מאבד עצמו לדעת, that she committed suicide.

The Baal Haturim is referring to the incident where Sara asked Hashem to judge between her and Hagar. Asking for דין, judgement, is a kind of death wish. If the world was judged purely by דין and not רחמים, mercy, nobody could survive. The Rabbis have a saying that one who judges his friend negatively, will be punished first. People do not realize how much damage they are doing to themselves, when they judge others. And this harm is even greater, when this judgement includes not wishing others well.

This message should be taken very seriously.We must learn to be positive, wish others well, and learn to genuinely be happy when others are successful. Perhaps if we realize the harm we are doing to ourselves, when we think negatively of others, we would make a strong effort to correct this major character flaw. If a saintly woman like our Mother Sara was called out for her bad judgement, it should motivate us to make these necessary changes.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at