This week, I Googled “skin deep.” I came up with a ton of hits, but the first was for a line of cosmetics. What do we use cosmetics for? We use them to make ourselves look better. We use them to cover up various real or perceived flaws on our face and elsewhere. I think we all deal with skin conditions over the course of our lifetimes as sometimes we are quite thick skinned and sometimes we are quite thin skinned.
Sometimes, we are so sure that we are right that we stubbornly refuse to even consider for even a split second that we might in some way be in the wrong. And, other times, we are so sensitive that no matter what someone may say to us or how they might look at us, we view it as a sleight.
And on those occasions, where we find out that what we perceived as an insult was in no way, shape or form meant as one, or when we find that we were wrong and someone else was right, apologies and admissions of error do not come so easily. In fact, we will often try to cover up the error of our ways.
But imagine if each time you said something bad about someone, that an icky, pussy growth appeared on your face, or your hands, or somewhere else so apparent that anyone seeing you would notice it immediately. What would you try to do?
Well, not too long ago a woman, who suffered her third fall, as she continued to insist she did not need the walker that had been prescribed for her, was re-admitted to a local health center. Only, this time, I was informed by staff that, unlike the other times, she was not coming out of her room. She refused to go to therapy and she turned down all the activities that were available at the center. I went to her room to see her and when I got a look at her face and saw the giant shiner, the big black eye on her face, I figured it had happened during the fall. And do you know why she refused to go out of her room? That’s right, she didn’t want anyone to see her like that.
One of the staff offered to put some cosmetics on to cover it up as much as possible, but I am not so sure that that was the wisest thing to do for this particular woman. I think this woman needed to let others see her shiner and I think, when they asked her what happened, she should use it to teach others the error of her ways … that she should admit that she got it because she was too darned stubborn to listen. And, I think, in doing so, she might not only have helped convince someone else to use a walker, but she would constantly be programming her own thought patterns to use it in the future.
On this Pesach, this Festival of Freedom, I hope that each time you hear yourself complaining about something that someone else does or says that you don’t like, instead of immediately trying to change them, go home, stand in front of the mirror and take a good long look at yourself and, then, go about admitting your own faults and begin the work of freeing yourself from those very faults that you so plainly see in others.
Shalom my friends,
Rabbi Craig H. Ezring
Rabbi Ezring is the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Israel of Deerfield Beach. We welcome you to join our warm and caring family for Shabbat and festival services. We’ll make your heart glow…who knows, you might even fall in love with Shul all over again.