Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy. — Proverbs 31:9
I recently watched an extremely powerful clip about our daily perception of life. The short video begins with a young businessman pulling out of his driveway when a young boy passes by on his skateboard causing the man to stop short. Throughout the rest of the clip, we hear this man’s inner monologue beginning with “Every time I pull out, that kid is always in the way!”
We hear his thoughts about how bad the traffic is, his inner protest when a woman pulls into the parking spot he was waiting for. We see the man enter a coffee shop and hear his frustration when as he is about to order his coffee, a man cuts in front of him and asks for a cookie.
As the man sits to wait for his order, a mysterious man appears with an eyeglasses case. On it are the words “Get Service.” The man certainly wants service, so he puts the glasses on.
These “magical glasses” give him insight into those around him. As he looks at the people in the shop, phrases like “fighting addiction” or “never had a friend” appear next to them. The man who asked for the cookie is sitting with his young son and the words “just lost his job” are visible to the businessman. Startled, the man leaves the shop.
As he is leaving, he sees the same woman who took his spot and the words “grieving her best friend” appear. As the man arrives home, the same kid is blocking his driveway again. This time the words “just needs someone who cares” appear. Taking the glasses off, the man finally gets it. He goes over to the boy, gives him a high-five and starts up a conversation.
The moral of the story: Everyone is fighting some sort of battle beneath the surface; we need to judge favorably and be of service.
In Proverbs we read, “Speak up and judge fairly.” So many of us go through life expecting to be served. We are annoyed when things don’t go away, frustrated when people get in our way. But Scripture is teaching us to give people the benefit of the doubt and, instead of expecting service, to be of service. We need to speak up and find out what’s going on beneath the surface instead of making false judgment calls. We need to take the time to talk with others and offer words of encouragement. Spend a moment to ask someone if everything is all right.
As we go out today, let’s put on our “Get Service glasses.” We might not see the reason for another person’s actions, but it will help us to look at one another in a different light and look for ways to be of service to those we meet.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President