The brutality of prejudice (judging before the relevant facts are in) and bigotry have left humanity with a bad taste in its collective mouth when we think of the verb “to judge”. The Christians like saying “Judge not so that you not be judged.” Parents have been told for the past half-century that they are way too judgmental of their children. So all western parents collectively lightened up and stopped judging their children. (I’m exaggerating of course. But hopefully you get the point.)
But we need to judge. I don’t mean we need to look down on people, or think they are evil. But a person functions by judging. You can judge something to be wonderful. Or awful. But too often the judgment is automatic, instinctive. Let’s make it more conscious: You look at someone davening with kavana. Don’t stare. But you notice. Can you think, “That’s great.” You see a kid being nasty. You think, “How can I raise my kid not to do that?” You see a teen acting in a thoughtful, polite manner. You think, “How can I raise my kid to do that?” Actively push your brain to evaluate your surroundings. Judge, judge, judge.
Then of course, when it comes to those people, turn on your judge favorably switch. Assume it’s not their fault. etc. But even the expression “Judge favorably” has the imperative verb “Judge” in there.
Judge yourself too. Primarily. Also favorably. But the accounting department should be operational every day, and every night before going to sleep. That’s what the bedtime Shema is for.
Ayn Rand, an avowed atheist, had a great line to this effect. “Judge, and prepare to be judged.”