The Mirror

The defects that you notice in someone else are the parts of yourself that still need fixing.

The world is a mirror ..... many people don't understand this. Whenever you notice a particular character trait in another person..... that is the part of yourself that you need to work on. If you think you have already fixed that trait in yourself, then why does it affect you so much when you see it in someone else?

chanoch adds: What bothers you is a reaction to the stimulus. It is recommended to meditate and / or contemplate what character trait you possess that generates the most upset when you act upon it. Here is a list of character traits: Link to list of character traits - kabbalah-character-trait.htm

The one who aggravates you the most, is most likely the one who possesses your own bad middot, but it's easier for us to criticize others than to work on ourselves.

If you can't see that trait in yourself, look harder.

You can learn a great deal about someone by listening to what they say about others. Most of what they say about someone else, applies to them ! They probably don't realize this.... and it's a good way of working out just who somebody really is.

chanoch adds: There is a Torah teaching that every word we say is a word that we say nto ourselves to hear. We may be saying this to other people yet it is meant for the person to hear each word.

The world is a mirror, you see your own reflection in other people.

The following is extracted from "Not Just Stories" by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski M.D.

Denial is a psychological term referring to a person's inability to see reality. Denial is a frequently occuring phenomenon, and is one of the many psychological defense mechanisms, whose function is to shield a person from an awareness that would cause him distress.

chanoch adds: In Kabbalah there are many terms that are used in psychology and modern English. Usually these terms are following the language of branches and have different meanings and dofferent understandings of meanings. Distress is one of them. The dictionary definition of distress is extreme anxiety, sorrow, or pain. Essentially distress means extreme stress. In psychology stress is considered a negative trait and a person under stress is out of balance. In Kabbalah stress is additional Light motivating an individual to reveal that light by allowing the surrounding light to become inner light. This is considered a positive situation.

A very common form of denial is a person's inability to see his own character defects. The reason is obvious: awareness of the presence of this defect in oneself is too much for a person to bear. Yet unawareness of these defects will result in one's doing nothing to improve upon them. Even a dedicated soul-searching may fail to reveal one's own shortcomings, since denial obscures their existence from him.

The Baal Shem Tov said that HaShem provided a way to circumvent this denial: "The world is a mirror" said the Baal Shem Tov. "The defects you see in others are really your own."

While denial prevents a person from seeing his own character defects, it does not prevent him from seeing defects in other people. Quite the contrary, we are experts at detecting faults in others. All we need to do, then, said the Baal Shem Tov, is to realise that these are but a reflection of our own shortcomings. We do not see defects in others that are non-existent in ourselves.

"Love covers all offenses" [Proverbs 10:12] has filtered down to the colloquial aphorism that "Love is blind". It is common knowledge that we may be oblivious to defects in someone we love, although they may be blatant to other observers. Just as we may not see that which we do not wish to see, so it is conversely true that we only see something which, for some reason, attracts our attention. The Baal Shem Tov states that when we see defects in others, the reason for this recognition is that, in one way or another, they represent our own defects.

This principle is a major dynamic in the effectiveness of group therapy. In treatment of some types of emotional disorders, group therapy may be far more effective than individual therapy. A therapist pointing out a particular character defect to a client may be rejected, with the patient's denial preventing the necessary insight. In a group session, the client is very likely to note this very defect in another group member, and the group may then help him realize that he too has this particular characteristic, and this is extremely effective in overcoming one's denial.

chanoch adds: group therapy is a tool that is more prevalent with female communities than male communities. This is the way females interact with each other moreso than males. This interaction is outside ofnthe dynamic of npsycho therapy.

It is the persistence of denial that constitutes a major obstacle to therapy and corrective action.

Rabbi Dov Ber of Lubavitch was receiving his chassidim, when he abruptly told his assistant to close the door and not allow anyone entry. Some of the chassidim, eager to understand the Rabbi's sudden desire for solitude, put their ears to the door and heard the Rabbi reciting Tehillim with heartrending tones.

The Rabbi later explained that whenever a chassid asks him for guidance to do teshuvah for a transgression; he immediately searches for that transgression within himself, according to the Baal Shem Tov's teaching that the world is a mirror, and had he not been guilty of the same thing, even in a much more diluted form, it would never have come to his attention. The discovery of an analogous defect within himself then allows him to make the necessary amends.

"When one chassid told me about something he had done wrong, I promptly began searching for a similar shortcoming in myself. However, I was unable to find it. This meant that I was deceiving myself, and that somewhere there was a dereliction of which I was unaware. Being oblivious of this would preclude my taking any corrective action, and I therefore had to pray intensely for Divine guidance to help me discover this defect in myself."

What a wonderful world it would be if every time we saw some defect in another person, we would do some soul-searching, and take corrective actions for self-improvement, rather than being critical of others and denouncing them.

chanoch adds: As a student of Kabbalah it is common to be told that my assessment of another is incorrect. This means that it is clear to me that I do not love this student sufficiently. Since the students of Kabbalah know that admonishment can only be heard by someone who loves them.