Who Do We See In The Mirror?

Whenever you notice a fault in another person, check where you have that fault yourself. We have a strong tendency to notice our own faults in others. This awareness gives us many opportunities to learn about our own shortcomings -since it is easier to recognize a fault in someone else than in ourselves.”

What fault do you commonly notice in other people? In what ways do you have that fault yourself?

Use this awareness as a tool to stop yourself from speaking against others. Who would want to speak against others knowing that you are merely drawing attention to that same fault in yourself?!

Today, catch yourself in the act of criticizing others. Then think about the implications for yourself.

-see Talmud Kiddushin 70b; Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin – Ruach Chaim 2:1
quoted from Aish.com

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves…”

-William Shakespeare’s
“Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)”

According to Attribution Theory in the field of Social Psychology, we tend to think that a person’s behavior is attributed to something we believe about them. For instance, let’s say you don’t like “Fred” for whatever reason. You think Fred is a blockhead and a pain-in-the-neck. You see Fred at your local fast food place and just after picking up his order, he trips and spills his tray all over the floor. This just “proves” what you’ve known all along. Fred is a klutz and a moron. See how he spilled his tray?

On the other hand, you may really like Sally and think she’s a great person. She’s kind, gives to charity, and is nice to children and small animals. You see Sally at the same fast food joint and she spills her tray in an identical fashion to Fred. However, you feel sorry for Sally. Someone (like Fred) must have tripped her. Instead of gloating, you rush over to help Sally clean up the mess.

Why we like or don’t like other people may be just what we believe about them. It may also be what we see in them. If Fred has characteristics that are like those in ourselves that we don’t like, we probably aren’t going to like Fred. If, on the other hand, we see things about Sally that are the same as some of the characteristics we like in ourselves, we’ll probably like Sally.

That’s a gross oversimplification of a complex set of variables, but you get the idea.

But what does this have to do with the Internet?

Plenty.

I mentioned yesterday that we do a fair amount of complaining on the blogosphere about a lot of things and a lot of people. But is it really necessary?

I suppose wearing the “mask” of the web over our “faces,” and given the fact that you can create a functional blog in just a few minutes, we all suddenly have the ability to spew our thoughts and feelings out to whatever audience chooses to read them. Once we start interconnecting, we start seeing people we like and don’t like and naturally, since we don’t have to face any of these people in real life, we tell them what we think about them.

Or are we really revealing something about how we like or don’t like ourselves under the mask?

Interesting, isn’t it?

Of course, if all of our complaining is really telling the world how we see ourselves, maybe it would be a good idea to turn it down a notch before everyone notices that we’re airing out our dirty laundry on the most public clothes line in the universe.

Whenever you see that someone has made a mistake, view the situation as a learning experience to prevent yourself from making similar mistakes.

Moreover, utilize this experience to discover what knowledge you may be able to impart to others so they, too, can avoid making similar mistakes.

Today, think of three mistakes you have seen people make recently. In what way have you made similar mistakes?

-see Ralbag – Shaar hachochmah, no.11
quoted from Aish.com

Turning that piece of advice around, if we look at the “faults” of others as if they’re our own, maybe we are really just learning from our own mistakes as we project them outward.

That would make the blogosphere one really, really big mirror. That ugly, nasty troll or witch you see on someone else’s blog is actually just your own reflection.

Terrifying thought.

I’ve got a suggestion. Visit the blog or website of the one person who really gets under your skin and read through a significant portion of their content. Pay close attention to what it is about the stuff you’re reading that really sets you off. Make a list of suggestions you’d like to give the blog writer about how they could improve themselves as a writer and a person. Then stop and ask yourself if you tend to say things or hold attitudes that are equally irritating, annoying, and offensive.

If (being perfectly honest since this is all happening within the privacy of your own thoughts) you start seeing these rather ghastly connections between them and you, begin considering the advice you wanted to give to that other person. Would it be good advice for you to take as well?

For those of us who have faith, we’re supposed to live in a community of like-minded believers. Our ideal is to obey the “new commandment” of our Master and to love one another (John 13:34). It’s supposed to be the defining characteristic of disciples of Jesus. Yet, given the nature and tone of our conversations on the Internet, we do everything else except love.

One should daven together with the community – 8a

Someone asked R’ Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, would it be better if one davened without a minyan if he felt he could daven with more kavannah in a room by himself. Which was more important, davening with a tzibbur or increased kavannah?

R’ Moshe responded (Igros Moshe O.C. 3:7): If the person can concentrate even minimally while with a minyan, it is better to daven with the tzibbur, even at the expense of added kavannah. We find that a person must extend himself to daven with a minyan, and it is even an obligation to do so. In an earlier letter (O.C. 2:27) R’ Moshe contends that the obligation stems from the fact that the prayers of a person who is in a group are certain to be accepted, while the prayers of an individual are not necessarily accepted. A person has the responsibility to daven to the best of his abilities, so he must go to daven where his prayers are more readily desirable. Accordingly, the advantage of davening with a minyan is essential, for this can make the difference whether one’s prayers are accepted or not. Davening with a bit more kavannah is only a substantive advantage. Therefore, a person must daven with a minyan, even though his kavannah may be somewhat diminished.

Daf Yomi Digest
Distinctive Insight
“Davening with a minyan or davening with more kavannah?”
Berachos 8

As we can see here, the sense of community and davening with a minyan is considered more important than experiencing greater kavannah in prayer by davening alone. God never really designed us, Jew, Christian, or anyone else, to relate to Him by ourselves. We know that loving God and loving other people are incredibly intertwined so perhaps that’s part of where this principle comes in. But whether we always like each other (or ourselves) or not, we are still all his disciples (I’m speaking of the community of faith now). We don’t get to escape from one another just because we sometimes fuss and bicker.

I recently issued a sort of challenge to Judah Gabriel Himango on his blog suggesting, starting next Sunday (or Saturday night after Shabbat) that “we spend a week posting only uplifting material and not announcing to the world why we think we’re right and the other guy or gal (it doesn’t matter who they are) is wrong.” For me, that means writing a minimum of six blog posts that don’t mention supersessionism, replacement theology, and my opinions on some of the major theological expressions in the Messianic Jewish/One Law community. I suppose it also means I can’t take the church to task for any of its perceived failings or take shots at atheists either.

All Judah has to do is not blog for a week and he’s covered, so I’m biasing this challenge in his favor just because I post “morning meditations” six-days a week. If anyone wanted to take a cheap shot at me in the comments section of my blog and not receive a pithy rebuttal, this coming week is the time to do it (I’m saying all this somewhat tongue-in-cheek).

Let’s see if I and anyone else, can choose to consistently take the moral high road and only offer uplifting, supportive, and encouraging words on the “intertubes.” I predict that the number of hits on my blog will plummet like a stone dropped in Lake Mead (I hope I’m wrong).

But I also hope that maybe the online community of faith will get something positive out of it, too.

We’ll see how it goes. Anyone else out there game?

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11 thoughts on “Who Do We See In The Mirror?”

  1. I’m game. 🙂

    There seems, to me anyway, a connection between the idea of “what if I’m wrong?” (wasn’t that your Wisdom and Doubt post?) and seeing your views of others as primarily revealing more about yourself than others, as a fundamentally humbling experience. You see, I am PLAGUED by constant doubts that I am wrong…and equally plagued by the suspicion that everyone else probably knows way more than I do. (About “messianic theology” anyway… I can be quite pompous and fingerpointing about other things, I am certain. LOL) So that sets me up to really love and respect people like you, Judah, Boaz, Derek, Gene, Eddie, Tim and even Dan. LOL (See how there is a nice mix of DI & OL folks in there?) 🙂

    All that to say that I would love it if we all could stand in a circle and “only offer uplifting, supportive, and encouraging words”, because we think more highly of each other than ourselves. Because you all are quite exceptional people, really.

  2. There seems, to me anyway, a connection between the idea of “what if I’m wrong?” (wasn’t that your Wisdom and Doubt post?)

    Yes, exactly. I suppose if you’re a teacher, you have to project a certain amount of confidence when you are presenting a lesson, but the reality is, we can only have highly educated opinions, but we do not have absolutes about all that there is to God, faith, and the Messiah.

    I would love to read your blog but when I click on your name, it says that it is protected. Should I send you a request?

  3. I have been following this “war of words” on the bloggosphere for the past two years. It started when I wrote a paper for a theological ethics assignment, comparing the OL and DI theologies with each other. But, I’ve been following the “main players” in this “war of words” ever since, mainly because everyone posts some real uplifting and informative posts more often than not.

    But, this past week things got a bit nasty again, and I was very disappointed that it happened. I listened to D. Thomas Lancaster’s lecture “Promise of What is to Come”, given at the 2012 FFOZ Shavuot conference (James, I know you were there!), and that lecture really inspired me. It inspired me because he spoke about the characteristics of the Messianic Age and that we as Jewish and Gentile believers within the greater Messianic/Hebrew Roots/Judaic Christian world need to start living out those characteristics here and now. One of the main points he stood still at was that the Messianic Age will be characterized by “peace”. And he went on to speak about he believed that we in this movement need to put aside our differences and start living in peace towards each other. We can disagree on things, but God’s love and His peace must start to become characteristics of our movement here and now.

    And then this past two weeks happened. Boaz’s speech, Gene’s transcription thereof, Peter’s fight against almost everyone on Gene’s blog, Peter’s new Q & A blog, etc., etc., etc…. (At least Derek was on holiday…).

    I am almost inspired again. I’m glad Judah wrote his blog and James responded with his “challenge”. I hope the rest will start to follow. Yes, let us disagree. Yes, let us continue to discuss theology. But, let us stop the nastiness…

    I live in South Africa, and I’ve come to appreciate everyone of you for your unique contribution. I’ve learned something from everyone. Some my previous held beliefs I’ve slightly adjusted. Some of them I’m even more convinced of as before. And some, like James would say, is still evolving and I’m only starting to understand them. So, thank you.

    Shalom!

  4. My wordpress blog is just where I gather and park a bunch of articles and silliness that I’ve come across over the years. Only one or two things are out of my own head, and that was years ago. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), my only real contribution to the blogosphere can be found at trustandobeytoday.blogspot.com, where one can be dazzled by photos of my kids, homeschooling humor, more pictures of my kids…oh, and some videos. Of my kids. Feel free to stop by and be AMAZED. LOL

  5. @Jaco. You’ll have to let me know what you think as the week ramps up. In the Messianic Age, we all imagine that peace will be easy for everyone. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it sure doesn’t seem easy in the present era. Nevertheless, we are called to be people of peace, grace, and love.

    @Allison: LOL. I’m sure I will be.

  6. @James – I will let know. Thx for the great blog. I enjoy reading it.

    In terms of peace. I don’t mind disagreement. I don’t even mind heated debate, I actually enjoy it. But, this past two weeks things seemed to start getting an ugly and nasty undertone. I didn’t like what I saw.

    Anyway, have a great weekend.

  7. “That would make the blogosphere one really, really big mirror. That ugly, nasty troll or witch you see on someone else’s blog is actually just your own reflection.
    Terrifying thought.”

    Even more terrifying is the idea that the “world” is merely the aggregate manifestation of all of us–the state of the world is the result of billions of individual “acts” of free-will. On that cheery note, I wish all Shabbat Shalom–may we ‘repair the world’ with the love that flows from Yeshua’s grace.

  8. I’m glad you’re trying this, James. I’m with you, and will be doing the same on my blog.

  9. Thanks Judah, although you make it sound like I’m normally an “attack dog” on 100% of the blog posts I’ve written before this. 😉

    I actually spent most of the past week or two addressing the general theme of love.

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