Today is October 4, 2023 /
By Aryeh Ben David
Published in Ayeka’s newsletter
December 4, 2014
A small victory – I didn’t judge anyone yesterday. In fact, I think I’m doing pretty good today too.
I have always struggled with judging other people.
Not only on the big issues – religion, politics, lifestyle – but also on the really small tiny ones – their clothes, their vacations, how their children are doing.
It may be my worst habit (though there is some stiff competition).
The judging happens in a moment. In a flash, someone will walk into the room and I’ll come to a snap judgment.
Two things about my judging:
I can’t stand myself when I judge others. I feel so small and mean-hearted. Yet I also can’t seem to stop the judgments from occurring. They pop up before I can get my hand out of my pocket to squash them.
I have found that shul is a great place for snap judgments. It provides so many opportunities for me to judge others.
Where do these judgments come from?
Some of them come from my insecurities – about my weight, off-key singing, being an immigrant, and financial insecurity.
But I realize now that my judging does not emerge from any of my particular “stuff”. The motivation for my judging is deeper than any specific idiosyncrasies – it’s a spiritual disorder.
At core it comes from a lack of belief that God created me with my own uniqueness. I don’t fully believe in my own soul.
I once had a teacher who said something that almost knocked me off my chair. He said, “God made me smart. And God made me stupid. I’m smart in the things that I need to be smart in. And I’m stupid in the things that I need to be stupid in. God made me just right for me to be me.”
So yesterday I had a small victory.
The guy who davened loudly – I was happy for him to find his own way.
The guy who looked around – I was happy for him to see other people.
The guy who davened slowly – I appreciated his focus.
And I felt the difference.
I’m not exactly sure what helped me yesterday. Maybe it’s a result of my morning meditation practice. Maybe it’s the result of Ayeka and focusing on serving other people. Maybe it’s just growing old.
I know I am a work-in-progress. But I am usually more inclined to focus on the work that needs to be done rather than on the progress that’s being made.
My brother-in-law will often say: “Just declare victory and go to bed.”
Yesterday was a small victory… I think it’s time for a nap.
For reflection –