The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 27 December 2008 / 30 Kislev 5769

Judging Favorably Saves a Life

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Answering a frantic knock on his door, the man renowned for his hospitality discovered a young man who identified himself as a deserter from the Russian army seeking refuge for the night. Ignoring the danger involved in aiding such a fugitive he gave him a bed for the night.

When morning came the young man was gone. Also missing were all the valuables of the family. Circumstances seemed to point to the deserter as the culprit and the family urged the host to report the incident to the local police.

He refused to believe that his guest was guilty and simply swallowed his loss. Some time later a local Jew who had been taken into temporary police custody overheard a conversation between some non-Jewish prisoners about how they had pulled off such a successful robbery in the home of the generous host. This was reported to the police and to the host whose faith was vindicated.

Years later this host was serving as a shochet in South America when he was approached by a stranger who identified himself as his erstwhile guest. When he discovered that there had been a robbery and that he might be suspected, he fled in order to avoid a police investigation that could lead to a firing squad for desertion. A favorable judgment on the part of the host had saved his life.

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