Rabbi David Paskin
Do Not Judge Unfairly
Updated: Sep 12, 2022
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From Rabbi David
It this week's Torah portion, Shoftim, we read, "You shall not judge unfairly: you shall show no partiality" (Deuteronomy 16:19). Each year as school begins I struggle with how much should be shared from each child's last year with their new teacher. On the one hand, knowing how they grew and the challenges they faced helps us guide them forward. On the other hand, we don't want to judge who they are and who they are becoming based on who they were last year.
Being able to see each child, and indeed each person, as being in the process of becoming, is vital to the educational process. We must reflect on our past while understanding that who we have been is not who we are becoming. Our past can, and should, influence our future but it must not dictate it.
Allowing each child to tell us who they are each day is a gift we can give them. It is like a Rosh Hashanah each and every day - each day, an opportunity for renewal and re-birth. One of my favorite teachings about Rosh Hashanah and the process of repentance is in the Hebrew word for repentance - Teshuvah. Teshuvah means, not only, "repentance" but also "returning". We move forward in our journey of self-discovery only when we look back at who we were and realize that we aren't stuck there. We are instructed by our past, through returning, in order to move forward into our future.