The general attitude in the Jewish ethical sources is that people should be encouraged to give those whose conduct is not above suspicion the benefit of the doubt. The earliest saying in this connection in the Rabbinic literature is: ‘Judge every man in the scale of merit’ (Ethics of the Fathers, 1. 7). A hyperbolic statement in the Talmud (Shabbat 97a) has it that whoever entertains a suspicion about a worthy man will be bodily afflicted, as was Moses when he suspected that the children of Israel would not believe him (Exodus 4: 1–6). In another Talmudic saying (Shabbat 127b), whoever judges others in the scale of merit will himself be so judged. When Eli, who had imagined Hannah to be drunk, discovered his error, he apologized and blessed her (1 Samuel 1: 12–17), from which the Rabbis conclude (Berakhot 31b) that such is the proper form when a person has been unjustly suspected of wrongdoing. Those guilty of the suspicion should apologize and offer a blessing.
Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies.