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Annoyed? Look in the mirror!

Thursday, 9 May, 2019 - 2:34 pm

The Baal Shem Tov taught that the world is a mirror and that the defects we see in other people are only a reflection of our own weaknesses.  We are likely to be oblivious to our own faults, but can easily detect shortcomings in other people.  The Baal Shem Tov instructs us to take such observations as indications that we have these shortcomings ourselves.

In this week's Torah portion we are told "When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not taunt him.... for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord, your God." Rashi explains this to mean, "don't taunt him with words" ...  [For instance,] do not say to him, "Only yesterday you were an idol worshipper, and now you come to learn Torah, which was given over by the Almighty God Himself! 

Why? "for you were strangers" Do not accuse your fellow man with your own defect. 

However, as the Baal Shem Tov taught, we all do this. We get annoyed when someone does something, only to realize that it's a mirror. This that I am noticing the other person's defect is just a way of revealing my flaw in order for me to fix it.

As we continue on this process of Sefiras HaOmer and refining ourselves, we should try to notice the things about others that bother us, and see if we also have that shortcoming in some way.

Have an amazing Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

P.S.  Rabbi Dr. Twerski says a story of when the Baal Shem Tov did this himself. Once, the Baal Shem Tov saw someone doing something forbidden on Shabbos, and he promptly concluded that he himself must have been guilty of a Shabbos violation.  When a thorough soul-searching failed to reveal such a breach, he prayed for Divine help in discovering it, and it was revealed to him that he had once heard a Torah scholar being insulted and had failed to defend his honor.  Since the Zohar states that a Torah scholar has the sanctity of Shabbos, his dereliction was considered equivalent to a violation of Shabbos. (quoted from the Jewish Action magazine Spring 1996).


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