I will be honest with you, when I first heard the story about Donald Sterling; I was ashamed being a Jew, that Donald Sterling is also Jewish. But then I thought, why Am I judging him so harshly?! Then I thought about the Dalai Lama who says (and I paraphrase) that we have to have compassion and forgive everyone no matter what evil they’ve said or done.
Chabad Rabbi, Rabbi Levi Cunin, believes that we should forgive Donald Sterling. I thought I would share with you some of Rabbi Cunin’s enlightening thoughts on the topic:
“As I was preparing to share a few thoughts on the events of this past week, some of which casted a poor light on Jewish compassion towards all peoples and colors, I received the following teaching from the Baal Shemtov, translated by my dear friend Rabbi Yossi Marcus.
Psalm 39:9 Rescue me from all my transgressions by forgiving them; do not make me the scorn of the degenerate.
When we render judgment upon a wicked person and say, “He is deserving of such and such a punishment for his sin”—we render judgment upon ourselves. Even when we have not committed the sin committed by the wicked person, we may have committed it in the manner of “as if.” For example, one who gloats with arrogance is as if he had committed adultery (see Sotah 4b); and one who becomes angry is as if he had worshiped idols (Zohar I:27b). Furthermore, it is possible that our “as if” sin is subjectively more severe than the actual sin of the wicked, since each person is judged according to his or her potential.
If, on the other hand, we judge the wicked person favorably, and attribute his sin to the fact that he is extremely coarse by nature and cannot overcome his evil inclination, we thereby offer a defense for ourselves as well.
Hence a homiletic interpretation of the verse: Rescue me from all my transgressions; do not make me one who scorns the degenerate, rather I should judge them favorably. You, G-d, will thereby rescue me from all my transgressions, since my favorable judgment of others will apply to myself as well (The Baal Shem Tov).1.”