I loved my brand new 10-speed bike, a shiny black Diamondback. I would ride around after school and visit my friends.
When school started, a new kid, Adam, would come over and ask me all kinds of questions about it.
“Where did you get it?” he would ask. “Where can I get one?”
Sometimes his questions were over the top. But I remembered he was a mutual friend of my friend Jeff, so I answered him.
A few months into school, my family and I went on a long Shabbos weekend in Florida. I parked my bike in the backyard shed and checked the lock. We were away for half a week, and when I returned, I went out to the shed to check on my bike. As I opened the door, I screamed.
“My bike is GONE!”
Someone had gotten into the shed; a few of Dad’s power tools were missing, too.
“Looks like someone picked the lock,” Dad said, a frown on his face.
We made a police report. The policeman said he’d comb the neighborhood to look for my bike. He told us there had been a slew of robberies over the last weekend.
On Monday, I saw Adam riding a bike just like mine.
“Hey Eli, like my bike?” Adam said, parking himself a foot away from me. “Rides great!”
My mind started racing.
“Could that be my bike?” I thought.
The tires looked just like mine. Even the reflector on the back matched the one I had on my bike.
“Where did you get that bike?” I asked Adam.
He told me he got it on sale — at a garage sale.
I was hot. I knew he had my bike … but why would he steal it?
“My bike is stolen. Did you hear about it?” I asked, deciding to test Adam.
“No, that’s strange.” His voice cracked. “You’re not accusing me of stealing your bike, are you?”
“Tell me exactly where you got it!” my voice rose.
“A garage sale, really. It was only $50. It seemed cheap, but …”
“Could your parents talk with mine and we can get to the bottom of things?”
Later that night, my parents drove me to Adam’s house. My father had a long talk with his parents and we solved the mystery. Adam’s family was glad we came to talk things out, and they had an explanation. Adam’s family had gone to a garage sale in a not-so-safe neighborhood. There they found a few power tools and a bike, which they had purchased. When we looked at the tools, we realized that they were Dad’s. The bandits had stolen and sold the items at a garage sale on the other side of town. Adam’s parents agreed to call the police and they came and made a report of the newly-found items.
We paid Adam the $50 and some cash for the tools so Adam’s family would not take a loss. The police visited the location of the garage sale the next day. They caught one of the thieves.
As for me, I learned an important lesson: Always judge people favorably.
1. Why does the Torah tell us to judge others favorably?
2. How do we benefit when we judge others for the good?
3. What are some ways to practice judging favorably?
Danielle Sarah Storch is a local freelance writer. “Shabbat Table Talk” is a monthly feature synthesizing Torah insights and lessons for children of all ages.