13 Tishrei 5781 / Thursday, October 01, 2020 | Torah Reading: Sukkot
 
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HomeFoundations of JudaismJewish OutlookBe Good to Others
 
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Be Good to Others    

Be Good to Others



If you're good to others, life is good to you. A person who acts with integrity lives a good life because he's always fulfilling mitzvoth between man and fellow human…

 



We see tangibly that as long as a person avoids harming any other person, no severe judgments hover over him, even if he's not the most exacting in the mitzvoth between man and Hashem. But, if he's careful in observing the mitzvoth between man and Hashem in addition to his precise adherence to the mitzvoth between man and fellow human, then he'll bring gratification both to Hashem and to his fellow human. That way, he's connected to truth and to emuna. Such a person also realizes that the good within him is a gift of loving-kindness from Hashem and he lives a truly good life.

 

But, if a person lacks emuna, even though his relationships with his fellow human are satisfactory, he won't live in truth. True, he won't sit in jail, but he won't find the tranquility of the soul and the spiritual delights that emuna brings to one's life. In any event, a person who cannot get along with others is in the worst situation, for he's in a self-induced solitary confinement. Chances are that he'll find himself in an actual jail cell of solitary confinement. If he does, it will be because of his transgressing the commandments between man and fellow human.

 

The general rule is that if you're good to others, life is good to you. A person who acts with integrity in his relationships with others lives a good life because he's always fulfilling mitzvoth between man and fellow human without even being aware of the fact. Everywhere he goes, people like him. They trust him and bless him. Every person can attain this level if he prays for it, for prayer can turn a square into a triangle and prayer overrides nature. In fact, prayer can alter nature.

 

Tangibly, we can see that a person who is good to others lives a good life. Take a general look at society and you'll find that the kind people who enjoy helping, encouraging and worrying about other people, always doing good with a smile on their face and giving in as well – these are the people who live a good life. Everybody loves them. In contrast, the people with nasty dispositions, always complaining and resentful, are people that have difficulty getting along with others. Other people feel suffocated in their presence. It's simply not comfortable to be around people like that. These complainers want to correct the world when they should be correcting themselves. Rebbe Chaim of Zanz once quipped that as a young man, he aspired to correct the world. When he didn't succeed, he decided to correct his town. When he didn't succeed at that either, he decided to correct his neighborhood; then his congregation; then his family. When none of those endeavors succeeded either, he decided that he'd be better off concentrating on correcting himself. Such is the personal example of a great tzaddik. We learn from this that we most influence the world when we ourselves are shining personal examples.

 

On the other hand, a person with bad character traits suffers from his own evil. A person's negative character is his own worst enemy. If you have an anger problem, you're the first to suffer. If you're prone to jealousy, not only do you suffer, but you eat yourself up. If you look at others with an evil eye, you'll get it right back at you. If you're stingy, you really suffer and other people will be stingy with you. Every bad character trait is a factory for suffering. People won't look at you favorably either, to put it mildly.

 

It's all in your hands, in the power of your prayers, because your "hands" are your "prayers", your ability to change things. For that reason, a person should learn daily about the characteristic that he wants to improve and about the ways that bring him to improve it. He should also learn how a person forfeits a positive character trait and how to avoid doing so. In addition, he should learn about what he stands to gain or lose in correcting or forfeiting a given character trait. He should pray for Divine assistance in improving the particular character trait that he's working on. In that way, he can turn a life of suffering into a good life and he'll benefit in being able to withstand and overcome difficult and bitter situations that life throws at us from time to time.

 

When improving character, everything turns around for the best. Therefore, devote a few minutes of prayer every day to the particular negative character trait that you want to refine and you'll soon see results. Consistent daily personal prayer is time-tested and proven. A few minutes of daily conversation with the Creator, in your own words, brings dramatic results and alters reality for the better.





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