Tazria Volume 15 Verse 72
Rabbi Yosi asked, whence do we know that? Rabbi Chiya said, from the words, “Open rebuke is better than hidden love.” THE MEANING OF “OPEN REBUKE IS BETTER” IS THAT if the rebuke is done with love, it is hidden from people. So when one rebukes his neighbor with love, he must conceal his words from people, so his neighbor shall not be put to shame. If his words are public, they are not with love.
The Zohar in this section speaks about rebuke with love, which in simple English is “criticism with love.”
One of our obligations—as friends, as people who love each other—one of our responsibilities as far as helping each other is to really be able to help another person see the missing piece of the puzzle – to be able to allow another person to see what is wrong with him, to see what his Tikkun is, to see what he is doing wrong.
The whole idea of being in this world is not just to be alone, by ourselves. Kabbalistically the whole idea of being on the mountain and meditating forever and being one with the Creator is not what life is about. We all came from one soul. The only way we can make the journey back closer to that one soul is if we associate ourselves with other people who are part of that one soul … which will allow us to see a bigger piece beyond just ourselves, will allow us to interact with other aspects of that one soul, and will allow us to see things that our ego would never be able to see otherwise.
One of the main parts of the whole idea of expressing true love and true relationship is the ability of others to see what we are ourselves blind to see. Nobody in this world can see by himself all of his own issues. As much as we try to reduce our ego and be honest – about our blockages, about our selfishness, about our insensitivities, about our laziness, about our complaining – we were designed in such a way that as righteous as we are, we need another set of eyes—at least one other set—to be able to observe what is going on.
It is so amazing sometimes for me, personally. I think I am on the right path and I am pushing myself and I am stretching myself … and then a friend will tell me something that is so obvious—about my insensitivity towards somebody else, or how my ego was pretty clear when I attacked somebody, or if I tried to help somebody but they felt that ego—and only after my friend tells me about it can I see it clearly. On my own, by myself, even though I try to question myself, I am blind to seeing it. We were designed in creation not to see our own Big Picture … and that is the reason.
When we are not open to allowing another human being in our life, at least one – a friend, a teacher … somebody whom we love and somebody who loves us – if we do not open ourselves to that person so we can see our filth, if we do not open ourselves to allow that person to talk and to tell us things, then we will never get there in life. We will be blind.
The idea is that if our goal is truly to ascend and to grow and to gradually get closer to that idea of true love and true connection—and no matter what, it is going to happen eventually; if not now, then in a few lifetimes—then why do we need the pain and the suffering that eventually will get us to open up to other people? Would we not want to proactively open ourselves up to other people? Would we not want to do this proactively … even though it is painful and the ego does not like it?
We need some people to see what is going on with us. It is not that every day that we need to ask, “Please tell me my issues, my Klipot.” It is not every day that we need to have psychotherapy, but we do need to create an open line of communication … and where there is love, we need to hear what is wrong with us from other people who can see better than we do.
Think about it. We see so many issues with the people around us, but they are so blind and they do not see it. Why do WE see it? Because we are outside of the box, so we can see things clearer.
We have to be open to receive proactive criticism, but – as the Zohar tells us – only when it comes with love … because when it does not come with love, then it is the ego of the other person. He might be telling us something that he sees which might be true, but he is involved with his own agenda to criticize us, or he is involved with his own agenda to get back at us, or it is only to feel better about himself because he is going through some hard times. So, we need to be open to receive proactive criticism, but only when there is love between the two people.
Proactively, when we are in the role of criticizing another person – for the sake of helping him – we need to really question ourselves many times: “Am I doing it with love? Am I doing it because I care about that person? Do I have a little agenda? Am I a little down? Do I feel better about myself when I criticize because it makes me feel a little bit more spiritual as a result?” Or can we honestly answer ourselves: “No, I am saying it because that is my role right now. It does not mean I am above the other person. It does not mean that I am better than the other person. It does not mean that I do not have even worse issues and worse Klipot and worse blockages. It does not mean that.” We also need to ask ourselves: “Do I have to say it? Or can I wait and say it in two minutes … or half an hour … or in a day?” When we HAVE to say it, it is one of the indications that we are not totally coming from the right place and with love.
As the Zohar says, when our criticism does not come with love and true care and even with true feeling of the pain of our friend’s ego, then no matter how nicely we say it, it will be uncomfortable. If it does not come from that place, then it is going to cause embarrassment and shame … and then the other person will have to deal with another issue which was not the main issue we were trying to share with him. For example, if we try to share with him about his insensitivity, but we do it in a slightly rude way – such that other people could feel that we are criticizing him – then he will worry about being embarrassed in front of other people and he will not be open—his heart will not be open—to truly get what we are trying to share. And actually, the Zohar tells us that whenever our criticism does not come from pure love, not only is it not going to help that person, but it is also going to add judgment.
Kabbalah teaches that in every aspect of life, something that could potentially reveal a tremendous amount of Light could, at the same time, cause a tremendous amount of harshness and negativity if it is not done with the right consciousness.
Two main points:
1. We HAVE to open ourselves for a line of proactive and loving criticism; if not, our growth will be blocked and limited.
2. When we are in the role of giving criticism, we need to question many times: Are we doing it from the right place? Because if not, then we are going to harm the other person and we are going to harm ourselves.