In Pirkei Avos we are told not to judge another unless we are standing his place. Is this a command never to judge another negatively no matter his actions? or is there a qualification that it only applies in certain circumstances? What about someone who murders or who publicly demonstrates against the Torah? How do we understand Hillel's dictum in light of this? Please provide sources. Tks.

  • 1
    "Please provide sources." Which Mishna in Pirkei Avos is this? Which dictum is Hillel's? Best if you edit those in.
    – Double AA
    Feb 18 at 20:14

Bartenura on Avot 1:6:

וֶהֱוֵי דָן אֶת כָּל הָאָדָם לְכַף זְכוּת. כְּשֶׁהַדָּבָר בְּכַף מֹאזְנַיִם וְאֵין לוֹ הֶכְרֵעַ לְכָאן וּלְכָאן, כְּגוֹן אָדָם שֶׁאֵין אָנוּ יוֹדְעִים מִמַּעֲשָׂיו אִם צַדִּיק אִם רָשָׁע וְעָשָׂה מַעֲשֶׂה שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לְדוּנוֹ לִזְכוּת וְאֶפְשָׁר לְדוּנוֹ לְחוֹבָה, מִדַּת חֲסִידוּת הִיא לְדוּנוֹ לְכַף זְכוּת. אֲבָל אָדָם שֶׁהֻחְזַק בְּרָשָׁע, מֻתָּר לְדוּנוֹ לְחוֹבָה, שֶׁלֹּא אָמְרוּ אֶלָּא הַחוֹשֵׁד בִּכְשֵׁרִים לוֹקֶה בְּגוּפוֹ (שבת צז.), מִכְּלָל שֶׁהַחוֹשֵׁד בִּרְשָׁעִים אֵינוֹ לוֹקֶה:

"and judge every person as meritorious": when the matter is hanging in the balance and there is no way to decide it in this way or that way. For example, a man from whose actions we do not know if he is righteous or wicked, who preforms an act that is possible to judge favorably and possible to judge unfavorably, it is pious to judge him favorably. But it is permissible to judge a man who is established to be evil unfavorably. As they only stated (Shabbat 97), “one who suspects righteous people is afflicted on his body” - [and so] it is implied [from this] that one who suspects evildoers is not afflicted.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .