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Tazria: Can We Criticize Others If We Don’t Love Them?

Is there a part of us that enjoys being critical of others? Do we feel good when we praise others? Which one do we spend more time doing? Our words like our actions are motivated by our feelings. We can only truly evaluate our behavior by critically examining our emotions. We do however need the courage to ask ourselves tough questions. We also need the humility to accept even the most ugly truths. It is only then that we can begin to trust the way we behave. Words can create. Words can also destroy. G-d created the world through a series of Divine utterances. These “letters” comprise the “spiritual DNA” which continues to give life to all existence. As G-d’s partners in realizing the full potential of creation, we can enhance or destroy the world. We can do this by employing constructive words or the opposite. Being critical of others is therefore fraught with risk. We are therefore required to thoroughly examine our motives before doing so. First and foremost we must ask ourselves; Do we love and genuinely care for the people we criticize or is there a part of us that despises them? Do we want build them up or would we like to bring them down? Furthermore, if our motives are not pure, we lose the ability to be objective. For if we don’t love the person we criticize, then our judgment of their failures will be influenced by the projection of our weaknesses upon them. This powerful lesson is conveyed to us in this week’s Torah portion which deals with leprosy. The verse states “When the Priest sees it, he shall pronounce him unclean”. The Rebbe explains that it only the “Priest”, a descendant of Aaron, who’s primary purpose is “to bless his people Israel with love” who can be critical of another Jew. The Rebbe goes a step further. He taught us that In our generation, experience has demonstrated that being critical of others has lost its ability to be effective. On the contrary, the opposite is true. The only way to bring the best out of people is by praising them for their strengths. Both for their achievements and also for what they could achieve if they realized their potential. Can you imagine a world where people only said good things about others!  

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