The Torah teaches in this week’s portion that we “judge others with righteousness.” One understanding is that we simply make the effort to be careful and thorough in our courts. Another is that we judge favorably: we assume the reasonableness of another’s position, even if it eludes us now.
As the sensitive one refused to leave the playground until the other learned to change, I wasn’t sure what to do. Intervene or leave things be? Confront or just empathize? I felt a small wave of disapproval within: he’s being unreasonable; he has to get over this. He can’t just disrupt the family because he’s upset. What’s going to be when he gets older?
Give him some space, I thought. He’s heated right now.
When I came home from the playground I found I was ready to listen without judgment. I sought out the other party.
“Can I hear your version of what happened?” I asked.
“He’s just too sensitive. What can I do? It’s impossible.”
I blanched momentarily in hearing the words I often think come out of my son’s mouth. I am often convinced of the unreasonableness of another’s outlook, the impossibility of a path forward. I could see: he was unconsciously holding the door shut to a world beyond.
“There is a way to approach this but you need blessing to see it,” I thought to myself. “First you have to acknowledge that you’re responsible, that it’s possible.”
Thank G-d, I felt compassion more than judgment. I let him be.
As in the past, they made up. As in the past, I assume there will be future friction. Finding the favorable judge in us can go a long way.