We are here to improve our relationships with others
in order to transform the Jewish people in these urgent times.
My Partner in Personal Growth
View people with whom you are likely to quarrel as your partners in personal growth. They are likely to make you more aware of your vulnerabilities, limitations, and mistakes. Don’t let this get you down. Rather, let it serve as your coach. You now have more awareness of what you need to strengthen, fix, and keep on developing.
Your partner in personal growth will be able to point out ways that you are improving. Even if he doesn’t explicitly give you positive feedback, you yourself will be able to notice your progress. Keep noticing when you are able to remain calmer, even though you would prefer that he speak differently. Keep noticing when you speak in ways that are more conducive to getting along better.
There is a level of kindness that is known as chesed shel emes, that is, kindness of truth. This is a kindness that you do totally unconditionally, a kindness you do for someone who won’t be able to pay you back in any way. Acting kindly towards someone who will do you favors in return is still an act of kindness but when you gain absolutely nothing from an act of kindness, that kindness is pure and more elevated. If you speak and act with kindness towards someone with whom you lack peace, your kindness is an act of personal growth. In this manner, this person serves as your partner to help you develop spiritually.
Viewing a potential adversary as your partner in personal growth will automatically make you feel better towards this person. The more progress you make in treating this person better, the more likely it is that you will also notice that this person is treating you better. And, even if you don't see progress on the other person's part towards you, you are still growing.
(Reproduced from "Harmony" by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, with permission of the copyright holders,
ArtScroll / Mesorah Publications, Ltd.)
Story: (based on a true story)
“Oh my goodness!! I can’t believe this mess!” I blurted out upon entering my minivan that was just returned by my neighbor, Hanna. who had borrowed it to do carpool.
“What happened in here?” I exclaimed as I noticed Cheerios all over the floor and empty chip bags on the seats.
This was the same neighbor who borrowed tools without returning them and left her kids playing at my house for inordinate amounts of time.
I grew up with a solid foundation in appreciating boundaries, limits and personal space. I’m really careful to teach my children about social cues and niceties. When we go to friends for dinner, we always bring a gift. When I borrow someone’s car, I’ll replace the gas I used. My husband knows that it’s not appropriate to make his morning carpool late so he waits by the open door so as not to inconvenience anyone.
Hanna had a very different upbringing and is kind of like the “spaced out” type. She’s very sweet and means no harm whatsoever but her personal awareness skills needed some help. After another incident of her borrowing a coat and returning it dirty, I didn’t know what to do with myself. In exasperation, I turned to my home library for help and found a book on “Dealing with Annoying People”. The book reinforced the idea that if we’re real about the fact that HaShem runs everything around us then each person put in our path has a purpose in our life. I thought a lot about this concept and thought that perhaps rather than be annoyed all the time, I could try and help Hanna. I began to explain, albeit gently, how some of her actions could be misunderstood and suggested certain behaviors she may want to work on. She was so appreciative and thanked me profusely each time we’d talk. I, in turn, was extremely humbled by her openness and willingness to see her own mistakes. She really only wanted to do what was right. In the end, my once annoying neighbor turned out to be a great role model in growth and humility.
Why do so many of us have the need to be “right”?
How would our relationships change if we walked around with the awareness that HaShem put them in our life for a purpose?
Why would people tend to not want to live with this idea?
Stretch of the Week: