Moshe gives reproof to the Jewish people in the book of Devarim, including the following:
“And you complained in your tents, and you said, because the Almighty hated us He took us out of Egypt to hand us over to Amorites to destroy us.”
Is it truly possible that the Israelites thought that the Almighty hated them?
Rashi, the great commentator, elucidates this verse and gives us a profound insight into human nature. Says Rashi, that the Almighty really loved the Israelites, but because they felt hatred towards Him, they mistakenly felt that He hated them. As people say, “What you feel about someone else, you assume he feels about you.”
Rabbi Kalman Packouz explains: “There is a strong tendency for people to project their own feelings towards others. If you constantly think that other people should not be trusted, it could show that you feel that others should not really trust you. If you always think that others disapprove of you, it indicates that you don’t approve of others – or perhaps yourself. To use this positively, if you feel love and compassion for others, you will assume others feel that way towards you. Not only that, but your behavior and feelings will beget the same from the people you interact with. Try smiling at another person. You’ll feel better towards him and he’ll be more positive towards you.”
In recalling the story of the spies, the Torah states, “And they said, ‘The land which the Lord, our G-d, is giving us is good.” Rashi understands these to be the words of Joshua and Caleb, the good spies; the Chasam Sofer says that these could also be the words of the other spies who were against going up into the land. The other spies could have meant that since the land is so good, the inhabitants will fight for it and not let us win.
Our lesson, according to Rabbi Zelig Pliskin: ‘When one praises you, do not assume anything negative; when you praise others, be careful that your words cannot be taken negatively. It is important to communicate clearly and unequivocally.
The Torah states:
“And I commanded your judges at that time saying, ‘Listen among your brothers.’ “What does this mean and what lesson for life can we learn from it?
Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin writes that some judges may see themselves as elevated people and the litigants who come to them as wicked. Therefore, the Torah states, “Listen among your brothers.” That is, consider anyone who comes to you as a brother and treat him accordingly. This concept applies to anyone in a position of authority. It is very easy to treat people as objects. However, our attitude towards others should be, “How would I feel, act and talk if this person were my brother?” This is especially important for anyone who is in a position where people in financial need or emotional pain come to him or her for assistance. The person you are talking with is suffering and often might feel embarrassed that he needs to come to someone for help. Be extremely sensitive to his feelings. If you are able to make him feel that you feel towards him as a close relative, it is a great kindness.
Prepared by Devorah Abenhaim