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!Here’s the second story.
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.
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?