Foreword by Stan Lerner: Many years ago I had the great opportunity to learn with Rabbi Daniel Lapen who is one of the greatest thinkers of our time. His move from California to Washington State in many ways left an empty desert where a sea of knowledge had flourished. Now because of the internet and blogs like downtownster the sea of knowledge has returned to our dry land.
Finger Pointing 101
Have you ever been put down by a silent sneer? Have you ever sensed harsh criticism in nothing more than a raised eyebrow? Have you ever felt your value as a person, as a friend, or as a relative minimized by someone finding fault in you or dismissing an achievement of yours as insignificant?
We’ve all been hurt by insults and criticism. Now, how about the other way around? Do you find too much fault with others? Do your children fear telling you of their activities and their thoughts? Are you far more lavish with criticism than praise?
If so, though you may be unaware, your friends, family, and co-workers may subconsciously avoid having to spend more time with you than they absolutely must.
If so, you are dogged by invisible forces that impede your progress. They place barriers in your way and suck the joy out of your existence. When life is good, it is often because you are surrounded by individuals who like you and want things to go well for you. They place opportunities in your way, they introduce you to people you should meet, and they correct false impressions about you. All of this takes place beyond your awareness.
However when the individuals who populate the broader reaches of your life view you as constantly critical, they may respect you, they may love you but they feel less comfortable with you. Naturally, they do not go out of their way to help you.
Though they may not do anything actually to hurt you, merely the absence of their active support translates into hidden specters that obstruct much of what you seek in life. The good news is that you can change this.
Ancient Jewish wisdom offers this helpful gem. In every interaction, give the other person the benefit of the doubt, the support and the praise that you would want him to give you if the situation was reversed. Be as generous in judging the actions of others as you tend to be when judging your own actions.
Let me explain with the help of Scripture:
“You shall do no evil in judgment in matters of length, weight, or volume. You shall have just scales, just weights, a just measure for dry goods, and a just measure for liquids…….”
In other words, we may not use a fraudulently light weight when we sell and a heavier one when we buy. God wants us to do business with scrupulous honesty. That seems perfectly clear, doesn’t it? This seems to make the following verses redundant:
“You may not have in your pocket two weights, a heavy one and a light one. You may not have in your house two measures, a larger one and a smaller one. Only one full and just weight shall you have and only
one full and just measure…..”
Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that the Deuteronomy verses go beyond commerce. These verses are talking of false weights, not in the market place, but in our pockets and homes. These verses teach us not to use one weight or measure by judging ourselves leniently and a different harsher weight or measure when judging someone else.
The process of changing and improving me involves banishing my old self and is called Atonement. It requires that I bring my actions into alignment with my self-image; in other words, becoming one integrated personality. I cover the topic more fully in my audio CD entitled Day for Atonement—Heavenly Gift of Spiritual Serenity.
When you find yourself about to put someone down with a silent sneer or a raised eyebrow, or whenever you are about to find fault with someone, remember to use only one set of weights and measures. You will astound your friends, please your family and delight those who share your workplace.