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January 18, 2017 / 20 Tevet, 5777
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Always Give A Person The Benefit Of The Doubt

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Chazal taught: He who judges his associates (in questionable acts) with favor will be judged with favor from Above.

It happened once that a man who came from the Upper Galilee hired himself out as a laborer for a term of three years to a master in the southern part. On the eve of Yom Kippur, when his term expired, the workman said to his master, “Give me my wages so that I may return home and support my wife and children.”

The master replied, “I have no money just now.” “Then give me my money’s worth in grain,” said the employee.

“I have none,” replied the master.

Again the hired man begged him, “Give me then my money’s worth in land.”

“I have none,” was the same reply.

“Give me then the amount in cattle,” he pleaded, but the master again refused, saying, “I have none.”

“Give me my money’s worth in furniture,” the man begged.

“I have none,” was the reply.

Discouraged, the employee put his bundle on his back and went away sorrowfully.

Visits Laborer With Pay

After the holiday the master took the wages of the hired man and, in addition, three mules laden with food-stuffs, liqueur and spices, and went to the hired man’s house in the Galilee.

The employee was jubilant and he invited the master in for a meal. After they ate and drank together, the master paid him his wages and gave him all the extras he had brought along.

The master then asked the employee, “When I told you that I had not the money to pay you wages, of what did you suspect me?”

“I had thought that perhaps you had come across a bargain and had paid out all your ready money,” answered the hired man.

“And when you asked me to give you your money’s worth in cattle and I answered that I had no cattle, of what did you suspect me then?” the master continued.

“I thought that perhaps you had leased it to others and you could not touch it,” was the reply.

“When I said to you that I have no fruit, of what did you suspect me?” the master queried.

“I thought, perhaps, that you had not yet paid the maaser” (fruit from which maaser has not been set aside may not be used to pay debts).

“And when I said that I have no furniture, of what did you suspect me?” the master asked again.

“I thought that perhaps you had dedicated all your possessions unto Heaven and you couldn’t touch it,” replied the employee.

The master jumped up and exclaimed, “I swear to you that such was really the case. I had made a vow to give away all my possessions because my son, Hyrcanus, did not want to study Torah. Afterwards, when I came to my associates in the South, they released me from my vow.

“Because you judged me with favor, so may G-d judge you favorably.”

Rabbi Sholom Klass

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