Daf Yomi Yevamos 25
The prophet Nathan appeared before King David and told him a story: There was once a rich man who had abundant flock and cattle. And there was a poor man who had just one sheep. That sheep was treasured – a member of the family that meant everything to them. One day a traveler arrived requesting a sheep. The rich man seized the poor man’s sheep, leaving his family with nothing.
‘What would you do?’ asked the prophet.
King David was furious. ‘That man deserves to die!’ he replied.
Nathan looked at him pitifully. ‘That man is you. G-d gave you everything. And you desired Uriah’s wife. And so you sent him off to the battlefields to die, so that you could take his widow.’
The Mishnah states: If Fred arrived from overseas and testified, ‘I killed Sheila’s husband, Bruce,’ we trust that Bruce is dead and Sheila is free to remarry, but she may not marry Fred, because we have relied on his testimony to release her.
The Gemara asks: How can we use Fred’s testimony? He is a murderer!
Rava teaches: A person is closely related to himself and therefore cannot incriminate himself.
You are your best friend and closest relative. When you act in a certain way that might not be 100% kosher, you find all sorts of ways to justify your actions, because you love yourself so intimately and deeply. That was King David’s problem. He wanted something so bad that he could find all manner of rationalization to justify his actions. But when he was confronted with the story told impartially, he was suddenly incensed at this fellow’s cruelty.
It’s time to start judging others the same way you would judge yourself. You can find all sorts of excuses and reasons for your own imperfections. When you see someone else acting out of line, instead of jumping to accuse them of wrongdoing, rack your brain to think about what might have motivated their improper behaviour. That’s the key to judging everyone favourably.
Nobody’s perfect. You aren’t perfect. Your spouse isn’t perfect. Those around you aren’t perfect. But if you use the same litmus test on everyone else that you use on your own actions, you will see the beauty and righteousness in everybody!