HLM Banner HLM banner

The Gift of Criticism

The Gift of Criticism

Credit:flickr.com

Listen to advice and accept discipline,
    and at the end you will be counted among the wise. — Proverbs 19:20

As we begin a new year and a new decade, let the pursuit of wisdom be one of our top goals. Enjoy this collection of devotions on wisdom throughout the month from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s timeless teachings.

As we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., download our complimentary booklet on the historic and spiritual bond between the Jewish and African-American communities.

It’s not easy to hear criticism. Whether it be from a boss, a spouse, or a friend, even well-meaning, constructive criticism can be difficult to hear. It’s natural to want to please those around us. We want to feel good about ourselves, and having our behavior challenged can be a blow to our self-esteem – but only if we let it.

In Proverbs, King Solomon taught that if we listen to advice and take discipline in stride, we will come out of the experience wiser: “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.” While the pill may be hard to swallow, it might just be the exact medicine that we need.

In my school days I had a very demanding writing teacher. One of our assignments was to compose a short story. However, that was only part of the assignment. The second part was to read the story to the entire class, and then it was the job of our peers to critique our writing. I remember feeling extremely uncomfortable as my peers pointed out the flaws in my writing, and my teacher highlighted every grammatical mistake. However, I can’t remember ever learning as much from any other homework assignment, either. It was in many ways a painful experience, but at the same time a profound growing experience.

Now, this isn’t to say that we should listen to everyone’s advice. Like most people, I’ve received my fair share of bad advice that I was wise enough not to follow. This is why the Jewish sages explain that the first part of the verse which directs us to “Listen to advice” means that we should listen and at least consider it. We should give the advice a fair hearing. If the advice seems good, we’ll benefit from it. As the sages teach: “Who is wise? He who learns from everyone.” If the advice seems off, we can leave it behind.

However, the sages explain the next phrase of the verse, “accept discipline” as referring to God-given discipline. Oftentimes, God sends us unpleasant circumstances in order to teach us something. Sometimes, God gives us challenges simply so that we might grow from them. When God sends a lesson our way, we must accept it unconditionally. God’s discipline will make us wiser and better.

Next time someone offers us advice, instead of running from it, let’s embrace it. When we feel the hand of God teaching us difficult lessons, let’s be grateful for them. As it is often said, we are here to “live and learn,” and when we do, we will live more powerfully, make better decisions, and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Learning About Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In January, we honor and celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for his leadership in the Civil Rights Movement. However, not many know that the Jewish community was standing by his side on the frontlines of faith.

Test your knowledge on the historical bond between the African Americans and the Jewish Community with our Quiz Here.

Hebrew Word of the Day

January 12, 2020

Periods of Time

Second — Shni’yah

YAEL'S HOLY LAND REFLECTIONS

Yael Eckstein looks out at Israel's neighbor with IDF

A Good Neighbor

As she did during Golda Meir’s time and King David’s days, Israel remains committed to peace and God’s biblical commandment to “love your neighbor.”

Monthly Teaching Resource

Eckstein Family on Shabbat

Tisha B’Av - Teaching Our Children Hope

Listen as Fellowship President and CEO Yael Eckstein explains the Jewish observance, Tisha B’Av, which occurs this month at sundown July 29-July 30, and the lessons of hope that can be found in the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, from her audiobook, Generation to Generation: Passing on a Legacy of Faith to Our Children. **

Please be patient with us! You may experience a short delay before the audio begins.

How to Help

sad elderly woman Maria from Ukraine wearing scarf

Bless and Be Blessed

God promises to “bless those who bless [Israel].” You can take part in His promise by being a blessing to a lonely elderly Jewish person who has nowhere else to turn. Your gift will help provide food, medicine, and shelter to someone in desperate need. Join us in helping these precious souls with your best gift today.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay informed about issues affecting Israel, the Jewish people, Jewish-Christian relations, receive daily devotionals, and more.