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From where do we know that one must be "dan" someone "l'caf zechut"? (that we must judge someone favorably even though from a certain act it might seem they are doing something?

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In Pirkei Avos 1:7:

יהושע בן פרחיה אומר, עשה לך רב, וקנה לך חבר יג, והוי דן את כל האדם לכף זכות.‏

Joshua the son of Perachia would say: Assume for yourself a master, acquire for yourself a friend, and judge every man to the side of merit.

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    Sounds more like good advice than an obligation.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 6, 2013 at 22:56
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The Gemora (Shavuos 30a) derives from the verse (Vayikra 19:15) "בצדק תשפוט עמיתך" ("You shall judge your fellow with righteousness") that one should judge others favorably.

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