Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


Judge Not

How can we mortals so glibly judge others?  It takes considerable conceit/ignorance and “chutzpes” to be judge and jury over our fellow men.  We cannot know what life experiences they have had, what their parenting was like, where they grew up, during which time period, how much competition did they have, how many siblings, what were the circumstances of their family, were they poor?  What was their religious background?  Were they orthodox, liberal or neither; were they accepting of their circumstances, did they feel deprived, did they have a serious deficiency, were they able to learn?  Were they ambitious, did they meet their goals in life?  Did they fit into the culture in which they found themselves?  What were the hardships in their life, were they wrapped in the proverbial cotton, namely, were they pampered?  What are their reactions to other people, were they able to get along with folk of other backgrounds and other circumstances?  Do they weep because tears come easily to them or are they suffering from pain, be it internal or external?  What is their physical stature, are they able to defend themselves?  Do they become easily distraught, what is their  appearance?  Do their outer expressions always signal how they feel and what pleases or troubles them? 

There is much, much more.

There are no two people exactly alike.  Each human being is unique beginning from birth.  Actions and reactions of parents and or caregivers differ.  The infant may be wanted or rejected.  His or her gender makes a difference.  The daily tasks of their upbringer vary as do their attitudes, earthly goods, and abilities.  Their expectations of their infants varies by what they have experienced growing up and their manner of treating the child differs from child to child and the birth order of each individual.  Single births differ from twins.  Twins are often very close and very much alike in their behaviors, attachment to each other, and feelings of security.  They must share with their soul and body mate.  It gives them a feeling of belonging but possibly lacks some of the physical individual attention that the single infant receives.

Parental expectations of their offspring differ.  For some there are great, perhaps too great expectations, for others there are little.  Some children are unconditionally loved and for others there are conditions.  Pressures brought about have an effect on the child thus treated.  Whether certain accomplishments are met or not makes a difference in the attitude of the child thus chosen.

Once a child is grown into adulthood, not too much  can be altered in his or her basic personality. Sigmund Freud declared that the child’s personality is formed by the time it is five years of age.  Let us look into our religious beliefs.  All male infants must be ritually circumcised eight days after birth. The orthodox Jew has absolute strictures what he can do, what he can eat, which of the commands must be adhered to, and how he must conduct himself.  When must he as a male wear  a Talis; when must he wear a Kipah (yarmulke), a head covering; how many hours must he wait between milk and dairy dishes? Women must go to a Mikveh (a cleansing bath after her menstrual period).  When is it acceptable to engage in sexual activity?  Men and women must not sit next to one another in a synagogue; there must be a curtain or stairs between them as they worship.

The rules for the conservative Jew are much more flexible and for the reform believer there are very few strictures outside of the ten commandments.

As Jews, the edict of nonjudgmentalism is extremely important.  We are taught that one of the greatest “neveres” is to embarrass another human being, to shame him!  To deprive another of his good name is an unforgivable sin; to spread “loshon horre” (evil tongue) is another.  To give to someone who cannot return the favor is a great blessing, (bechol levovcho, bechol nafschecho ufchol meodecho) with your whole heart, hand, soul and strength. To do “tschuve,” right a wrong within yourself, and return to the righteous deed, is heartwarming and forgives the perpetrator.

Considering all that we know and what we do not know, let us look at our fellow brethren, our Jewish community, and the community of man without judgmentalism, with compassion, an open heart, and an open mind.


Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

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