Don’t Listen

I’ve learned that its not a good idea to listen to what people say about you.  People, even people who love us, may say things that are not always complimentary.  Its part of human nature.   Even people we care about and who care about us, may say things that aren’t aways complimentary, and listening to what they may have said about us will only hurt our feelings and possibly damage a good relationship.  Ecclesiastes 10:20 says, “Do not curse the king, even in your thought;
Do not curse the rich, even in your bedroom; For a bird of the air may carry your voice, And a bird in flight may tell the matter.”  We would all do better to keep our mouths shut, but its not our nature.  It can be just as bad to believe everything we hear, or everything that is said, as saying it.  

They truth is, everyone by nature is somewhat critical. Nobody leads such a life that they have no detractors ever. Wisdom is in realizing that  not everyone who says the wrong thing is our enemy, and even if they said the wrong thing, it doesn’t mean that they don’t love us.  I have dear friends who have said they thought I did something stupid behind my back.  Maybe it was stupid, and maybe it wasn’t.  They didn’t want to get into an argument with me, maybe because they cared about me and didn’t want to hurt my feelings. They didn’t want to get into a fight about it, but they still didn’t like it.  Thats part of what friendship does.  It knows we do dumb things, but accepts us anyway.

When I hear that someone said something that was uncomplimentary about me, I really don’t know the context or the intent. It would be wrong to act on what I heard, even if it was painful to me, because I didn’t hear it, and don’t know if what was reported was reported accurately, or their intent. It wouldn’t be fair to the person who allegedly made the comment. Being a friend means giving someone the benefit of the doubt. If I think it’s true that they said it, I’m supposed to go to them and discuss it with them.  When I assume they did say it without talking to them, I am presuming them to be guilty, when they may not be.  Doing the right thing is to give a friend the benefit of the doubt.  It also means recognizing the ones through whom we heard these things may have had good intentions.

I recently heard that someone I love and care about said some unkind things. I was deeply hurt, and the person who told me had only good intentions, but as I thought about it, because they are my valued friends, I gave them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they didn’t mean it. Sometimes we say things to be funny or to express an opinion without thinking our words may hurt people.  We can get upset and have an argument, or we can forgive. I choose to forgive, and I can only hope when I say things I don’t really mean, that people will forgive me.

The truth is, even though I love God, I offend Him every day of my life. I make stupid decisions and say foolish things that don’t reflect my greater values or how I really feel.  I try to do better, but I’m so far from perfect; yet God forgives me. I try to do the same for His children.  I learned to forgive because I have been forgiven of much.

 

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11 thoughts on “Don’t Listen

  1. You’re talking about Lashon Hara here which is, in my opinion, the most damaging, divisive thing Mankind has ever devised to obstruct and destroy the works of God. The person who spreads it sins, and the victim is just that, a victim.

    I agree it is good, even commanded, to forgive. BUT at the same time the offense needs to be stopped. I remember an occasion in which a woman was spreading statements that a certain Rabbi in CT was doing false teaching. She was telling this to anybody who would listen. Many refused to receive it because they knew better, but others believed it, thus causing division in the congregation. If this had been allowed to continue, it could well have destroyed the congregation and a very good ministry.

    A member of the congregation, on hearing it, went straight to the Rabbi and told him what was said and who said it. That, I’m sure, was not easy for either the member or the Rabbi. The Rabbi, however, was able to go to the woman and straighten her out such that that particular Lashon Hara was stopped right in its tracks. The woman left, and peace returned. This is the situation in which you find yourself right now. If you don’t stop this, it will continue as an infection, throughout you and your ministry. I made comments to your last post, and I stand on what I said.

    You may not want to get to the bottom of this, but you need to do it. I don’t like giving unsolicited advice to a man of your stature, but this is a time when what I like isn’t important. What your ministry needs is more important.

    Shalom,
    Your Dutch Uncle

  2. Dave, I appreciate you very much, but at this point, I see no value in addressing a problem that has only been hearsay. If what I heard was actually said, it may not have been intended to harm. As I stated in the post, I think its best to let it go. God is long suffering with us. We need to be the same with each other.

  3. i do not know you on a personal level, but i do know this that by your blogs i can tell you are a man of character and integrity. i enjoy reading your perspective on life and on spiritual matters.

  4. Michael it is an occupational hazard that we share. That sad part is that it will always be with us and all you can do is cry out E-to Bru-ta . (not Hebrew, Latin) Then we either forgive them or drop them but then we just move on.

    • That’s not Latin. I know enough Latin to know that. The closest I can come to it is, “Et tu, Brutus?”, which doesn’t seem relevant to me. It translates, And you, Brutus? or more colloquially, given the situation in which it was said, You too, Brutus?

      • Shalom, David — In case you didn’t recognize the reference, it is from Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar”, where the title character’s surprised exclamation is: “Et tu, Brute?!”, which translates as you indicated. His disappointment and surprise were due to the unexpected betrayal by his friend who joined with other conspirators to “stab him in the back” (so to speak). It is this element of unexpected betrayal by a supposed friend that provides the relevance to Dr.Schiffman’s essay, as well as the fact that the Brutus character’s motivations were to serve a higher societal good even though it meant disrespecting his friend’s ability to evaluate whether he was doing rightly. Thus Shakespeare challenges us to consider both the offense of the betrayal and the arguably justifiable motivations for it. If we do likewise when someone speaks about something in which they view matters differently from us, perhaps criticizing us in some degree either implicitly or explicitly, then we may do as Dr.Schiffman is suggesting to consider our own potential or actual shortcomings along with the other person’s possibly good intentions — thus performing the mitzvot of considering our fellow man better than ourselves as well as of doing for someone else something that we would like for others to do for us (i.e., to give us the benefit of the doubt, or to think of us in the most positive light possible).

        The good feelings of performing such mitzvot in place of ill feelings that someone has spoken unkindly of us are a very healthy positive influence on our overall attitude and outlook. This also may place us in a much better frame of mind whereby to investigate whether there may be some justice or correction that ought to be pursued by addressing the matter with the someone in question.

  5. Proclaim Liberty, shalom to you also,

    You, as others, seem to have missed my point. I was not suggesting that Rabbi Dr. Schiffman’s way is the only way. Good grief, am I so close to God that I should presume I know more than he?

    No, I was addressing the issue of lashon hara. Lashon hara creeps throughout a ministry like a cancer, and often has the capacity to destroy it from within. Good grief, look what it did to Ceasar. Anyone who thinks he knows better than Rabbi, or thinks God has spoken to him, is OBLIGED to present the matter to Rabbi, face to face, Then, Rabbi can either accept the correction, or explain to the person why he is wrong, and that MUST be the end of it. You might note that that is exactly what I did in this case. Rabbi has explained to me how my comments were not appropriate, and as of my post on June 9, I have ceased with it,

    By the way, Brutus may have thought his motives were toward a higher societal good, but he was serving himself. He had stabbed Cesar in the back, as you stated. For myself, I have discussed it with Rabbi, he prevails, and NOT ONE WORD of this will I ever speak behind his back.

    By the way, you sound familiar. Do I know you off this blog?

    Dave

    • @David — It is possible that you’ve read my responses on other blogs; or we might have encountered one another if you live in Jerusalem. In my reply above I was not addressing the Lashon ha-R’a issue per se (important though that is), but only the “et tu, Brute” literary reference, its significance, and its relevance.

      • OK, I don’t know you. I’ve been in Jerusalem, but have never lived there. If I were a young man, I’d be seriously considering making Aliyah.

        Dave

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