I’m having trouble trying to understand “judge everyone favorably”. If I turn a blind eye and I don’t use my mind and say “he’s a tzaddik, he’s correct he only does what’s right, he doesn’t have bad middot”, then that means I have to listen to what he tells me and do as he says because if I don’t then did you really judge favorably? By not hanging out with that person and not doing as they say, your actions are showing otherwise, that you really don’t believe you judged. So how can I possibly be commanded to judge favorably but at the same time use my brain to get out of bad situation and not be around people that bring me down?
You are very right. The torah is not telling us to whitewash what we see, and to make all actions, and everything that people do correct in our eyes. This is very dangerous, as you wrote so nicely, that we won’t know who to stay away from and we will learn all sorts of terrible things, and we won’t be able to protect ourselves. I once heard an interesting idea, “we can learn from everyone; from some people we learn what to do , and from some we learn what not to do”.
In fact there are times that we should specifically not judge a person favorably. Such as a person that is known to do bad things, i.e. a known thief, even when we see him doing something that might actually be good, we shouldn’t look at it too positively, and we should still keep our distance from him.
See attached article where the various halachos are discussed.
See attached article.Hil. Dan Lekav zechus 5777