Ki Tisa: See For Yourself

Benefit of the Doubt

In this Torah portion, God speaks to Moses on Mt. Sinai and gives him two stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments. This holy event is followed by a shocking tragedy: God tells Moses that down below, the Israelites are worshipping a calf made of gold.

Moses descends the mountain and when he sees the people dancing around their golden idol, he smashes the tablets in fury. But why doesn’t he smash them as soon as he hears what is going on? Moses only gets angry when he personally witnesses the misbehavior. Does he not believe what God tells him?

The Midrash explains that Moses wanted to teach the Israelites proper behavior. We should not give credence to a negative report about someone. As it is written, โ€œEven if one hears something critical from a trustworthy person, one is not permitted to accept his word and take action on it if he does not see it himself.” (Shemos Rabbah 46:1)

Moses modeled giving others the benefit of the doubt. Imagine how different the world would be if we all gave each other the benefit of the doubt!

Like Moses, may we merit to see the best in others, even when it’s difficult!

Dedicated by Rabbi Scott Bolton in memory of Jaime Davidovich

Image: “The Adoration of the Golden Calf” by Nicolas Poussin, 1634

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