Interpreting Evil

This  is hard wisdom to learn. When I point out the faults of my fellows I must earn to see the three fingers pointing back at me screaming “Hey fool this is you too.”

It is hard to to look at one self and take an honest inventory of my faults and assets. Yet life’s circumstances forced me to become brutally honest with myself and learn to take a real assessment of my faults and assets. For if I don’t I will surely die. I don’t not want to go back to that life.

G‑d then summoned Moses to the entrance to the Tabernacle. G‑d spoke to him from a pillar of cloud that appeared over the Tabernacle’s entrance, informing him that He was going to dictate a poem to him that he should teach the Jewish people. The purpose of the poem was to inspire the Jewish people to remain loyal to G‑d throughout any misfortunes that might befall them as a result of their misdeeds.

[G‑d told Moses that the Jews would say during their misfortunes,] “Is it not because our G‑d is no longer among us that these evils have befallen us?” Deuteronomy 31:17

We are naturally disposed to overlook our own faults – or, if we do acknowledge them, to rationalize them. This verse teaches us that in order to show us our own faults, G‑d shows them to us in other people. “Because my G‑d is not within me,” i.e., “because I am not spiritually mature enough to be sensitive to my own shortcomings” – “this evil has befallen me,” i.e., “I have been forced to see my own evil reflected in my fellow Jew.”

Therefore, rather than focusing on others’ faults, we should try to focus on their virtues and excuse their shortcomings. Not only should we focus on others’ virtues in our own minds; we should praise them for their virtues, and praise them to other people. In this way, we foster mutual love and respect.

Just we are encouraged to inspire those around us to love G‑d, so are we encouraged to inspire those around us to love every Jew, for loving our fellow Jew leads us to love G‑d.1 Sefer HaSichot 5705, p. 92.

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