The Previous Rebbe was once questioned about his efforts to befriend all Jews, even those who are the opposite of those “who are to be promoted and not to be cast down.”1

The Previous Rebbe replied: “The Shulchan Aruch consists of four parts: Orach Chayim, Yoreh Deah, Even Ha’ezer and Choshen Mishpat. The laws concerning issues of ‘promoting’ appear in Choshen Mishpat, the final section of the Shulchan Aruch, and there itself it is in the very last sections.

“The order of learning is in the sequence mentioned: first one learns all sections of Orach Chayim, Yoreh Deah and Even Ha’ezer, and then nearly all of Choshen Mishpat, until one reaches the final few sections. Only then does he learn whether he should ‘promote’ or, Heaven forbid, otherwise.”

The deeper meaning of this is as follows:

To do a favor for a fellow Jew is certainly a mitzvah. To cause someone harm, however, arguing that this act is in accordance with the Torah, may very well be based on a misinterpretation of the actual law. It is also possible that ulterior motives are involved. Moreover, he may be reprimanding the other not so much because the Shulchan Aruch demands it but simply because he enjoys castigating.

A judge must of necessity be a compassionate person, capable of finding merit in those he is judging. Even when he has to sentence the defendant to flogging, or a more severe penalty, he cannot personally carry out the sentence — even though the ruling is sound according to Shulchan Aruch — because of his inability to bear the other’s suffering. The sentence is thus carried out by a deputy of the court.

Likkutei Sichos, vol. 1, p. 133