On the surface, the days of S’firas HaOmer seem to have two, somewhat contradictory themes: On one hand, it’s a time of mourning when we limit joyous activities, like making a wedding, listening to music, or buying new clothes. On the other hand, the month of Iyar, which sits in the middle of S’firas HaOmer and contains the majority of its days, is a time of great rachamim (compassion) and an influx of Divine healing. The Hebrew letters that spell the month of Iyar are actually an acronym for the phrase “Ani Hashem Rof’echa” – “I am G-d, your Healer” (Sh’mos 15:26).

We no longer daven for rain at this time of year. But, according to Reb Pinchas of Koritz, even the rain that falls between Pesach and Shavuos, particularly in Iyar, is a r’fuah for diseases that have no cure. So, how can we tap into the flow of rachamim in the month of Iyar? How can we use this time to change the dinim in our lives to rachamim? According to the Zohar, when Hashem wants to show us compassion, He first sends to us an individual who himself is in need of compassion. When we have compassion on this person, then Hashem has compassion on us, as it says, “Whoever has compassion on God’s creatures, receives compassion from heaven.”

But, this compassion is not just physical in nature. It also involves our thoughts:

The Sages taught: “‘You shall judge your fellow with righteousness’ (VaYikra 19:15). [This means]… you should judge another on the side of merit.”

According to the Baal Shem Tov, when you see a person commit a shameful act or serious transgression, you should realize that at that precise moment you are seeing a person caught in a life and death battle with his yeitzer ha’ra (evil inclination), and his yeitzer ha’ra is winning.

Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said: A person’s evil inclination overcomes him each day and seeks to kill him, as it is stated in Sukkah 52b: “The wicked watches the righteous and seeks to kill him.” Our Sages teach us that one should have compassion on this person and make every effort to find some justification for his actions – even if he is known to be a rasha (a wicked person).

By not arousing judgment upon someone who is overwhelmed by internal conflict and the struggle with his yeitzer ha’ra, you fulfill the verse, “You shall not incline the judgment of your poor in his dispute” (Sh’mos 23:6). In the end, you will arouse favorable heavenly judgments upon him.

Every Jew, no matter how far away he is from Hashem and his true tafkid in the world, still has a cheilek Elokah mima’al, a Divine spark of k’dushah, within him that no one else in the world possesses. He is, at any given moment, a tzadik in potential. As it states in Y’shayahu (Isaiah) 60:21: “Your people are all tzadikim.”

But even if every single Jew has an aspect of tzadik inside of him, this part can only be actualized through the slow process of emotional refinement and spiritual growth. When you judge your fellow favorably, not only can you save him from even the most severe heavenly decrees, your intentions can create a spiritual opening for him to do t’shuvah. This can lead him to begin that process of refinement and growth later on.

The Baal Shem Tov adds, when you see this lowly and unpleasant thing in your fellow, what you are really seeing is a reflection of yourself. The very area where your fellow is struggling is the same area where you yourself struggle. Just as there may be heavenly judgments and accusations against this person, there may be heavenly judgments and accusations against you.

In the heavenly realms, a person can’t be sentenced for his transgressions unless he first passes judgment on himself. If he doesn’t do a cheshbon ha’nefesh (self-accounting) and t’shuvah, then Hashem gives him another opening. He shows him a person with a similar lacking. When he passes judgment upon this individual, whether for the side of merit or for the opposite, he simultaneously seals his own judgment.

By seeking out the good points in your fellow and judging him favorably – even when he is at his lowest – your compassion for him will elicit a flow of compassion from Above. This influx of Divine compassion can sweeten the harshest decrees and bring with it countless brachah, y’shuos, and r’fuos – for you and your fellow alike.

(Material was previously published on www.ShiratMiriam.com.)