A human being fashions his consequences as surely as he fashions his goods or his dwelling. Nothing that he says, thinks or does is without consequences. — Norman Cousins
Moses, at the beginning of the Torah reading of Shoftim, commands the nation of Israel to appoint judges and officers, and to place them at every “gate” (meaning, every town) to judge the nation with righteousness.
However, the Berdichever explains that this injunction also reveals some of the basic elements of divine justice.
God is the ultimate judge. However, the judgments we mortals receive from above are heavily influenced by our own very human judgments below. Strict justice can be mollified by mercy and compassion. But that compassion must be present on earth. God needs to see that we are merciful if He is to temper His justice with mercy.
If God sees that we are merciful in our lives, then he will likewise be merciful with us, even if by the pure logic of justice, we might have been deserving of stricter and harsher punishments.
It is clearly understandable how if we act compassionately with others, God will act compassionately with us. However, the Berdichever takes this concept a quantum leap forward, by explaining that it’s not only our acts that are mirrored and paid back upon us, but that even our thoughts are held against us or stand to our benefit.
He states that when we judge people favorably, meaning when we think well of others, even if it is a completely internal dialogue in our minds, God will actively judge us and reward us in very real and concrete ways. Giving others the benefit of the doubt forces God to likewise give us the benefit of the doubt. It makes God find some favor, lean towards being more merciful, spare us from deserved punishments and treat us with a compassion that mirrors our own compassionate thoughts.
May our own positive thoughts of others be rewarded with positive outcomes for ourselves and for those around us.
To the memory of Rabbi Binyamin Tabory zt”l. A great teacher in Israel. May his family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.