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In Avot we learn that one should judge all people favorably ("והוי דן את כל האדם לכף זכות"). I would like to know if that includes the deceased. Meaning, can I look back on the life of a person who is now dead and, in reviewing his actions, judge them any which why I choose? Or, would the precept of judging favorably still apply?

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Mistama........ –  Hacham Gabriel Sep 4 '13 at 3:59

1 Answer 1

Well, there's a חֵרֶם קַדְמוֹנִים to talk badly about the deceased.

As the Chafetz Chaim writes in הלכות אסורי לשון הרע - כלל ח

דְּיֵשׁ תַּקָּנָה וְחֵרֶם קַדְמוֹנִים, שֶׁלֹּא לְהוֹצִיא לַעַז וְשֵׁם רָע עַל הַמֵּתִים.

So if you wrongly accuse the deceased about something, you are the subject of an ancient excommunication.

That would be a strong impetus to judge them favorably.

Or, as the popular expression goes: אחרי-מות קדושים.

(Explanation: After they died they are Holy; a play on words of the 2 Parshiot Acharie-mot and Kedoshim.)

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