Welcome and Be Open to Rebuke

Yael Eckstein  |  October 15, 2021

Yael Eckstein praying at the Western Wall

A rebuke impresses a discerning person
    more than a hundred lashes a fool.
— Proverbs 17:10

We continue with devotional thoughts from the Book of Proverbs every Friday. One of the 11 books in the Torah known as the Ketuvim, Hebrew for “writings,” Proverbs is part of the “wisdom tradition,” which also includes Job and Ecclesiastes.

As a mother, one of the most important lessons that I try to teach my children is to learn from mistakes and not deny responsibility. Kids sometimes feel that they need to be perfect or there is something wrong with them. When confronted with something that they’ve done, their natural reaction is to get defensive and avoid blame.

I try to teach them that mistakes are a good thing. We learn from them, but only if we’re willing to do so. If we deny responsibility and always insist that we’ve done nothing wrong, we can never grow.

The truth is that this may be even harder for adults than it is for kids. I know so many people who tragically harm their relationships and never correct their faults because they don’t want to face them, even when confronted. We need to remember that God does not expect perfection, just honesty and growth.

Welcome and Be Open to Rebuke

This is the lesson of Proverbs that a “rebuke impresses a discerning person.” If we really want to improve and continue to grow, we should welcome and be open to rebuke, not feel bad about it. If we’re unwilling to see our faults, we can never fix them.

This is the true meaning of humility. Humility doesn’t mean thinking I’m worthless. The Hebrew word for “humble” — anav — has the same root and almost the identical spelling of the word einav, which means “one’s own eyes.” What the Hebrew teaches us is that true humility is our own eyes, the eyes that look inward at ourselves. It means that I see myself honestly and clearly, that I face my faults and work to correct them.

On the other hand, the Hebrew for “fool” in our verse is kesil, which is from the same root as the word for “sides” or “walls.” A fool is “walled” in, closed off from seeing himself or hearing the lessons that need to be learned.

May we all humbly welcome and be open to rebuke so that we can continue to improve every day.

Your Turn:

Think about a time when you may have reacted badly to criticism that you received. What could you have learned from that criticism that would help you improve?