Our Rabbis taught: He who judges his neighbor in the scale of merit is himself judged favorably. Thus a story is told of a certain man who descended from Upper Galilee and was engaged by an individual in the South for three years. On the eve of the Day of Atonement he requested him, ‘Give me my wages that I may go and support my wife and children.’ ‘I have no money,’ answered he. ‘Give me produce,’ he demanded; ‘I have none,’ he replied. ‘Give me land.’ — ‘I have none.’ ‘Give me cattle.’ — ‘I have none. ‘Give me pillows and bedding.’ — ‘I have none.’ So he slung his things behind him and went home with a sorrowful heart.
After the Festival his employer took his wages in his hand together with three laden asses, one bearing food, another drink, and the third various sweetmeats, and went to his house. After they had eaten and drunk, he gave him his wages. Said he to him, ‘When you asked me, "Give me my wages," and I answered you, "I have no money," of what did you suspect me?’ ‘I thought, Perhaps you came across cheap merchandise and had purchased it therewith.’ ‘And when you requested me, "Give me cattle," and I answered, "I have no cattle," of what did you suspect me?’ ‘I thought, they may be hired to others.’ ‘When you asked me, "Give me land,’ and I told you, "I have no land," of what did you suspect me?’ ‘I thought, perhaps it is leased to others.’ ‘And when I told you, "I have no produce," of what did you suspect me?’ ‘I thought, Perhaps they are not tithed.’ ‘And when I told you, "I have no pillows or bedding," of what did you suspect me?’ ‘I thought, perhaps he has sanctified all his property to Heaven.’ ‘By the [Temple] service!’ exclaimed he, ‘it was even so; I vowed away all my property because of my son Hyrcanus, who would not occupy himself with the Torah, but when I went to my companions in the South they absolved me of all my vows. And as for you, just as you judged me favorably, so may the Omnipresent judge you favorably.’
Our Rabbis taught: It happened that a certain pious man ransomed an Israelite maiden [from captivity]; at the inn he made her lie at his feet. On the morrow he went down, had a ritual bath, and learnt with his disciples. Said he to them, ‘When I made her lie at my feet, of what did you suspect me?’ ‘We thought, perhaps there is a disciple amongst us who[se character] is not clearly known to our Master.’ ‘When I descended and had a ritual bath, of what did you suspect me?’ ‘We thought, perhaps through the fatigue of the journey the Master was visited by nocturnal pollution.’ ‘By the [Temple] Service!’ exclaimed he to them, ‘it was even so. And just as you judged me favorably, so may the Omnipresent judge you favorably.’ (both from Shabbath 127b)
Sunday, January 25, 2009
With the measure we use ...
While researching in the Talmud, I have found some illustrations of basic decency. Just as Jesus taught us that with the measure we use, so God will measure back to us, here are some examples of the same principle from the Talmud. I hope the main enjoyment here is not merely as historical interests, but as good examples of how a habit of kindness might show itsself.