ben goldfarb 88.
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As much as we have been taught to give the benefit of the doubt and to avoid judging others, this can often be a difficult task.
We sometimes think we understand other people's motives, and more often than not, we condemn others for their words and actions. Perhaps we need to change the way we look at the world.
The Talmud states that we don't see the world as it is but rather as we see ourselves. The founder of the Chasidic movement, Rabbi Israel Ba'al Shem Tov (1698-1760), takes this notion one step further. He suggests that we look at the world as if looking in a mirror. When we see good or bad character traits in others, this is simply a reflection of who we are.
This concept is illustrated beautifully by the following story. A traveler approached the gates of a city and asked about the nature of its inhabitants before entering. The guard asked him what the people were like in his hometown. The man described in no uncertain terms all of the negative attributes of his former neighbors. The guard said that the people in his city were identical to the inhabitants of his hometown. The traveler decided not to enter the new city.
A few moments later, another traveler approached the same guard and asked the same question. The guard asked about the inhabitants of the man's hometown. The traveler began to sing the praises of his former neighbors and lavished them with every possible compliment. The guard told this man that the people of his city were identical to the inhabitants of his hometown. The traveler entered the new city, eager to meet his new neighbors.
So the next time we see a positive character trait in another person, it can serve as a reflection of what we are doing correctly and can give us encouragement. If we see a negative attribute in someone else, rather then judge the other person, we can consider it an opportunity to improve ourselves. Instead of being annoyed with this person, we can be grateful that he or she was placed in our life for the valuable lesson we can learn.
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Ben Goldfarb was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, and is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. He moved to Israel in 1988. He divides his time between his yeshiva studies and his coaching practice. His life calling is to help others understand their personal mission and accomplish it with humor, creativity, and spirituality. He lives with his wife and children in Jerusalem. For more information about his coaching practice, visit the Paradigm Shift Communications website, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright 2007 by Ben Goldfarb