Monday, May 2, 2011

Dan L'kaf Zechus

The following two stories happened recently and I think it’s worth sharing just so you see that you never know what is going on in another person’s head and they could have a very good reason for doing or saying something. Dan L’kaf Zechus is not just a phrase, it’s a real true thing that we should all try to work on!

I was on my way out of town for yom tov and while I was at a rest stop, I called a friend to wish her Mazel tov on the birth of twin girls (!!). I forgot to hang up the phone and so the voicemail continued playing rap music that had been on quite loudly at the rest stop. When I realized my phone call was still connected, I was mortified!

I could almost imagine her reaction. “Oh she shows the world she’s so frum but really, look what she listens to behind closed doors! Ha! What a faker!”

I know she really wouldn’t think those thoughts – she knows me well enough to know that rap music isnot on the top of (or anywhere on) my list of music of choice. But just to make sure, I sent her a text message explaining that the music was most definitely not coming from the radio on in my car, but from the rest stop’s blaring speakers.
Here’s the second story.

This morning, when my husband was coming back from shul, he overheard our chassidish neighbor, a very frum mother who was waiting for her son’s bus stop, tell another neighbor really loudly that she “got to see more about it on a huge TV screen”.

Now this woman is definitely not the one to watch TV. And she wouldn’t say it loudly enough for others to hear.

But when my husband came home and I told him the big news, he knew exactly what she was talking about.

Osama bin Laden was killed. (The enemies of Our People will get their just punishments. Even if it isn’t in this world. He may not have suffered the way we would have imagined it – a cruel or unusual death. But living in fear of one’s life is surely part of his punishment. And Hashem will take care of the rest in the next world, that I am sure about.)

THAT was what she was talking about.

She must have gone to a pharmacy or another store that had TVs playing the big news.

So how can you make it easier to judge other people favorably?

I once heard this advice that really helped me.

When it comes to something you are doing that may look wrong to others, it is easy for you to come up with excuses or reasons why it happened.

I was tired. I didn’t notice she needed my help. I forgot. I made a mistake. It didn’t happen the way she saw it – there’s another whole side to my story that she doesn’t even know about.

So when someone else does something that looks doubtful, that makes you wonder how she could have said or done that thing, you can literally put yourself in her shoes and imagine what kind of excuse would you have come up with if this happened to you?!

It’s always easy to think of excuses for our own (mis)deeds.

So that’s how you can think of excuses for others-simply imagine yourself in that situation.

Then it won’t be so hard to figure out why that perfectly religious looking girl walked into McDonalds. Maybe she needed the bathroom. Maybe she needed change for a bus. Maybe she was thirsty and wanted a bottle of coke. What other reasons might she have walked into an obviously non-kosher store? It may seem a little hard for you but if it you did it, you would surely be able to come up with a few reasons to explain yourself!

You can use this piece of advice anytime you see someone you know doing something a little “off”.

Do you have any dan l’kaf zechus stories to share?


  1. i do everything a little of... maybe then nobody will think twice?

    i stop at mcdonalds to use tae bathroom regularly when i am out with the kids. hmm...

  2. sorry for the typos... NAKing...

  3. we had a speaker where she made us take the story of cinderella wich we were all tought since age 2 that the step mother and stepssters are really really horid, and cinderella is so good, she made us all come up with a whole story how really they werent doing anything bad, like maybe helping to shelter her by not going to the ball, ect. ect. it was a really good excersize cuz it made us think totally out of the box, i mean here we are compleately biased, and we even have all the facts down in a book, But sometimes in real life we think there is no possable way that shes doing the right thing but its our chiuv 2 be dan likaf zechus anyways!

    its funny because i really try so hard always to be D'L'Z and some times i do it too much, like were learning navi and im trying to convince my teacher how really maybe gaichazi didnt really do a chait, and making up all these excuses for him, she said sometimes u just x have 2 be D'L'Z if its so obvious and it even tells us in navi but i x realy agree...? anyways its a really gr8 trait that is really worth worrking on!!!!

  4. One time on Shabbos my parents were walking and they saw a frum man walking in the street with tons of traffic. They were wondering why he couldnt just use the sidewalks on either side of the street. Then they realized that he must be a kohein and since there are trees hanging out from the cemeterys that are on both sides of the street, he couldnt walk on the sidewalk.

  5. The more you get used to coming up with explanations for what other people are doing that seems wrong, the easier it is to do it. I spent so many years doing it for my kids...every time they'd question something they saw or heard, I'd come up with some possible reason for it so that they'd see that there may be another side to something that seems so clear to them. By now, it's almost automatic to me.

  6. Here's a cute story connecting to this topic.

    For 30 years every day old Moishe ate at "Abe's Kosher Delicatessen". Old Moishe was an honored guest and had his own reserved stool at the counter. He was loved by everyone and was generous to all the servers and staff. Abe, the owner loved Moishe too. One day Moishe didn't show at his regular time. Abe was worried a bit as he realized Old Moishe was a widower and lived alone but then got busy and forgot about Moishe's absence.

    The next day... no Moishe... now Abe was worried... he phoned Abe's number and got no answer. He called a few local hospitals and even called Moishe's daughter in Israel - to no avail. Abe couldn't sleep that night wondering what had happened. Next day - again no Moishe!

    Now Abe was really concerned, and just as he was about to call the cops and 911 he glanced out the window and saw Moishe going into "Goldberg's Deli" across the street. Abe took off out the door and raced across the street narrowly missing getting hit by a bus and confronted Moishe just as he was sitting down. Abe screamed, "Where have you been?! I lost sleep and spent good money phoning around about you! And what are you doing here at Goldberg's? You know he's my competitor! Explain to me Moishe!!!!!"

    Moishe looked at Abe and said calmly, "Settle down Abraham, settle down, you'll be having a heart attack. I'll be telling you what happened, okay. I went to the dentist three days ago and had one of those root canals. Oy the pain! The dentist gave me some pills and said...

    ... 'Moishe, for a few days eat on the other side.' "


    1. lovely!!
      really shows that there is something behind every persons move. not neccerly what the eye can see or the mind understand.
      thank you! really enjoyed it!!

  7. Wow Devoiry! That story you just posted is a really cool one! I was wondering the whole time like what on earth could it be - and wow- that ended in a funny way!
    And also i love how you wrote the way of how to look at any given situation that looks a bit interesting to us. It's sooo true if we would just apply it to ourselves- we would come up with many things! Thanks for that perspective! :)

  8. someone once met me in the street and started yelling at me in a very strong way i was sooo shocked and sooo hurt! i decided not to answer back who knows why she did that...later she sent me an apology letter saying tht her very close friends mother was jst niftar and i was the first person she frm pain she jst yelled.. its soo great to put things into perspective and see that when ppl do things they have a reason and if we try to judge favorably we cld prevent many outbusrts!! so think before you jump to conclusions maybe the person had a hard day and you were the first one they met...
    i think if we work on this midda we will have alot more happiness and peace in the world!! hashem wants to bring mashiach lets take one step at a time to think more positively of others!!
    this blog is soooo awesome!!! thanksooomuch for such gr8 ideas:)

  9. Once my mom and I went out for a walk early in the morning and by the time we came back the boys had already left to shul and my little sister was the only one home. We knocked on the door and there was not response so I immediately assumed that it was because she was still sleeping, I was about to make fun of her for sleeping so late, when, after much banging on the door she called out loud from inside "modim anachnu lach", the reason she hadn't answered the door was because she was davening!

  10. Thanks everyone for your stories!

    Here's another cute story I wanted to add - it's part of a song from a kid's tape called "It's Lashon Hara Again":

    The tables set with food galore,
    When in walks a kid from next door,
    She helps herself to cake and cream,
    I am about to scream!
    But first I say for goodness sakes,
    Shouldn't you ask before you take?
    (you hear a little kid's voice say:)
    "My mommy told me not to ask for anything at all"

    It seems like a mystery, you can't figure it out
    You may not have all the facts to know what it's about
    Try to find a way to give the benefit of the doubt
    It's a great solution
    To ear-pollution...


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