Every so often we get caught, or catch ourselves, doing something wrong. Very often we come up with creative justifications for what we did. The person I snapped at was rude to me first. Or I stole a video because the store makes too much money anyway.
In this week’s Torah portion, Moses reminds us that when we do things that are wrong, we must focus on the imperfection in ourselves and not use twisted logic to find another source of blame. Actually, modern psychological studies show that all people think they are basically good, regardless of how bad their actions. That is because people judge themselves by their motives, not by their actions. Interestingly, early Rabbis said, “All of a person’s ways are right in their eyes.” (Proverbs 16:2)
There is no way to correct our bad actions if we do not see them as wrong. There are people in your life who have the ability to think straight: parents, teachers, coaches, friends, siblings, or grandparents. Look to those in your life who exemplify “untwisted” thinking and objectivity. They are the ones to look up to and try to learn from them.
TALK TO YOUR KIDS about self-justification being a road to nowhere.
CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:
- Why is it “twisted” to blame someone else for your mistakes?
- Suppose the other guy or girl really is wrong: why is it helpful to focus away from them and into yourself?
- Think of two older people you know who are wise, mature, and model clarity of thought.
By Rabbi Moshe Becker
Values & Ethics—Through a Jewish Lens is created by Fred and Joyce Claar to bring the wisdom of Judaism into family discussions.