Q: A neighbor insulted me with hurtful words and anger bordering on fury. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt by assuming she was nervous or upset at the time and therefore reacted inappropriately.
I’ve always learned that we won’t be excused in Shamayim for hurting others because we were in a bad mood. It is therefore difficult for me to convince myself that she isn’t to blame because she was nervous at the time.
What method can I employ to uproot the anger from my heart?
A: If your neighbor fits into the category of a yiras Elokim, or at the minimum, an average baalas middos and yiras Shamayim, you’re obligated to give her the benefit of the doubt. It is incumbent upon you to think what could have led her to act out, and then to work on uprooting your anger. It is highly improbable that you’ll ever know what your neighbor was experiencing at the time. She may have been worried or under pressure, suffering from an awful headache or toothache, or even an emotional disorder that was beyond her control.
If any of the above are true, it diminishes the severity of the sin, because “Ein adam nitpas b’shaas tzaaro — A person isn’t held accountable during times of anguish.” (Bava Basra 17)
In addition, if you give a fellow Jew the benefit of the doubt, you’ll merit favorable judgment from Above.
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The views expressed are of the individual author. Readers are encouraged to consult their own posek for guidance.