Criticism Never Pays (Pirkei Avot 2:4)

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“Hillel said, “Do not judge others until you stand in their place.”

There is a tendency in human nature to criticize others for their flaws, mistakes, and inadequacies. However, we usually are unaware of the factors that lead to their blunders. What’s more, if we had the same pressures that caused our friend to err, we might foul up even worse than him!

For instance, Yeravam, who fell into idol worship, criticized King Solomon for a lesser sin. Specifically, when King Solomon completed the building of the Temple, he placed the Temple keys under his pillow. In this way, he would be ready to awaken early and perform the morning service in the Temple.

However, Bas-Pharaoh, one of King Solomon’s wives, draped a tapestry with bronze stars over his bed. King Solomon saw the stars and thought it was still night. Consequently, the opening of the Temple doors was delayed for four hours.

Yeravam came to King Solomon’s door with a group of men. He criticized and mocked the king’s indiscretion. However, a Heavenly voice addressed Yeravam: “King Solomon sinned unintentionally. However, you, Yeravam, are destined to commit a far graver, intentional sin.”

May we view others with a kind and compassionate eye, especially when they make a mistake. In turn, our friends as well as HaShem will treat us with mercy, love, and respect (based on the commentary of Rashi to Pirkei Avos).

TODAY: Refrain from all criticism and negative comments.

Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Zvi Miller and the Salant Foundation

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