Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mirror Image - by Divine Delivery
The Psychology of Observation

If you see a fellow Jew doing something wrong, there are two ways you can look at him. You can see him in a positive light, or, you can see him projecting negatively.

You can see, in the whole picture, a good person, plus a misdeed you'd want for him to correct. Or, you see the person as having a blemished personality for which his transgression is evidence.

The difference is not insignificant. In fact, it's rather astounding. But first let's take a concrete example.

Suppose you see a Jew stealing in a store. You might think to yourself, "this guy is a lowlife." This would be seeing him in a negative light. On the other hand, you might view this as an opportunity to tell the person that The One Above is watching and perhaps returning the item is in order.

The difference is much more than just your attitude. Because the negative perspective, where you indict the personality of your subject - really means you're seeing the miscreant behavior in yourself.

In fact, this is one of G-d's ways to tell you of the problems you are having! Nothing in this world happens by mere coincidence. That which has been planted before your for you to see - is for you to see and learn from. It is from here where you can correct your personality.

The "dirt" you see in your subject reflects the "dirt" in yourself you have to clean up. If you saw a "lowlife" stealing, you most probably have that same stealing issue with yourself.

Had you wanted to correct only his behavior, and had still regarded him highly, you could not be implicated with any fault of personality, just as you saw no defect in that of your subject.

This is one lesson of the verse (Vayikra 19, 17), "Do not hate your brother in your heart; You must admonish your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him."

Notice that you have love of fellow man and admonition of his misdeeds - both in the same verse - to teach you they are related. You must fulfill the first command as a prerequisite before you admonish him, because then your admonition relates, not to his personality, only to his misdeed. Otherwise, were you to admonish him while seeing his personality in a negative light, why then you'd only make matters worse; Not only would you not correct his behavior, you may well distance him further, and thus, "bear sin because of" disliking "him."

So the next time a Jew triggers within you a dislike of some sort, here's the gist of it: Know - you're looking into a mirror! You'll then know what about your own personality you have to correct.

Otherwise, simply love the person, and go over to him and tell him how he can correct his behavior or reverse his transgression - for then you'll certainly be effective.


Here's an essay by Rabbi Y.Y. Jacobson on this very subject:

1 comment:

  1. the man in the mirror..perfect..beautiful post:)