Thursday, May 19, 2016

Raising Spirits

This week's parsha is called Emor, which means "say." The names of the parshas hold a special significance and a lesson for life. The Midrash on the words "Emor el haKohanim, Say to the Kohanim," says "the sayings of Hashem are pure sayings." Emor is a command to say something pure, emulating Hashem. While we are generally taught, not to speak about others, here the Torah wants us to say something positive about another.

What does Hashem want us to say?

Our words have power.

When we speak negatively about someone, we affect the person negatively. This is why loshon hara, evil speech, is so bad, because it damages three people, the speaker, the listener, and especially the one being spoken about.

In the same way, speaking positively about someone, will affect the person positively.

But how can I speak positive of a person who breaks the rules? He went to yeshiva just like me, he should know better.

There are two answers, both found in Pirkei Avos, Ethics of our Fathers.

The first is, "Don't judge your friend, until you are in his situation." In this approach, when you see your friend failing in a certain area, you should consider that his circumstance is what caused him to fall short. If he would have been in more favorable circumstances, he would not have failed in this area.

The problem with this approach is, that although you have found a way to answer away your friends failings, he is still a failure in your eyes. This, obviously, cannot be what the name of our parsha, means for us to say.

The second is, "Judge every person favorably." In this approach, you focus on the positive. You recognize, that every person is given challenges, according to the greatness of his Neshama. The greater the neshama, the greater the challenges and the greater the ability to overcome these challenges. In this way of thinking, you see the positive in your friend. Although there seems to be a negative, you choose not to focus on that. Eventually, if you practice this approach long enough, you will cease to see the negative and you will only see the greatness in others.

Now this is worthwhile saying. Imagine how this boost of true praise, will affect the person being spoken about. This kind of praise, can be the thing that strengthens him, to overcome his challenge. This is the kind of "saying," the name of our parsha is asking us to do.

Since I was young, I would always try to find ways to lift others spirits. Of course, I have said hurtful things too, which I regret. But over the years, I have trained myself to see good things in people, and compliment them.

Everybody has good and when you expose that good, you raise the spirit of that person. And there is nothing better than lifting the spirit of another person.

5 comments:

  1. Wonderful advice.
    Funny because for the last few days I have been think about how I need to practice this more.
    Our tongue can have poison or healing.
    I choose healing.
    Thanks for your insight and words of wisdom.
    Im praying for you and your family.
    I know life is a struggle and yet you are all so brave.

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  2. Thank you ! may you dance inside like the waves of the sea *******

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  3. Thanks Rabbi Yitzi!
    Great Blog!
    You are a true inspiration!
    May Hashem repay your kindness without limit!
    And may He redeem and heal us very very soon.
    Keep strong.
    Shabbat Shalom :)

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  4. Thank you for this most insightful and helpful piece and for the important advice to see the good in others and lift them up. Chazak! You are making a positive difference in the world!!!

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  5. I love this..."You recognize, that every person is given challenges, according to the greatness of his Neshama. The greater the neshama, the greater the challenges and the greater the ability to overcome these challenges." It is uplifting in so many way. Thank you for your encouragement.

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