November 13th, 2009

Moses grimaces

Shabbat Shmooze ~ More words of wisdom from Michael Wex

Advocate: What do I have to do to be a mentsh and not a shmuck?

Michael Wex: It’s pretty much a matter of considering other people.

The classic formulation is one found in the Talmud, from a rabbi named Hillel: “If there’s something you hate when somebody else does it to you, don’t do it to other people.”

Why did Hillel express this negatively? Why didn’t he just say, “Treat others the way you want them to treat you,” like Jesus did?

The Jewish tradition has a relentlessly realistic view of human character. There’s no idealizing of it, no “If we all try really hard, we’re all going to turn into Eagle Scouts.”

That all ties in with this idea of being a mentsh.
Working with what you hate allows you to respect the other person’s preferences.

From a talk by Michael Wex

You can read the whole article by Anna Beth Keim here: "The Mentsh Maker".