(Torah Portion Ki Seitzai) Water Selfie
At this time of year, knowing that the big day of Rosh Hashana is fast approaching, we are generally more in tune with our spiritual health. We think twice about what we say about others and we are a bit more conscious and meticulous about our observances.
Let’s face it; all of us have people who rub us the wrong way. Is there method we can apply, or a way of thinking we can adopt, to change our feelings?
King Solomon in the Book of Proverbs tells us, “As water reflects a face back to a face, so one’s heart is reflected back to him by another.”
One’s face mirrors the feelings of his heart. Just as when one smiles into a body of water, a smile reflects back and when one frowns while looking at the water a grimace reflects back, so it is when we approach and greet another; if we smile they will smile back and if we frown they will frown back. Our face is the window to our heart.
Rabbi Chaim Voloshin o.b.m. offers an insightful thought into human nature. Man has two internal drives, his good side and his passion to do bad things. The right side of a person represents the good and his strengths, and the left side represents the bad and his weaknesses.
It is human nature to play ourselves up and to lessen the accomplishments of others.
When facing another person our right side aligns itself to his left and our left aligns to his right, as if our right side is telling us, “Look how weak the other person is.” And our weak left side diminishes and plays down the strengths of the other person.
However when a person peers into the water and sees his own reflection, his right and left sides are aligned correctly, giving him a balanced assessment of his weaknesses and strengths.
Says King Solomon, “As water reflects a face back to its face.” When facing water, all one’s components are lined up and one side does not rival the other. So too, “One’s heart and feelings are to be balanced and aligned when perceiving another.”
This method can motivate us to accentuate the strengths and overlook the faults of another.
I once heard someone point out that King Solomon specifically uses water to demonstrate reflection rather than the typical mirror, because when looking at a mirror one can be upright and stand tall, not so when one peers into a body of water where he has to bend and lower himself to see his reflection. The message is, “In order for one to recognize the value of another, he must first exercise a humble spirit.”
On this verse, “As water reflects a face back to a face, so one’s heart is reflected back to him by another,” the famous commentator, Malbim, offers an additional insight.
A person’s heart works similar to one’s reflection in water. Just as one’s image in water comes from his own image, so too, the heart beats and pumps blood throughout a person’s body and the blood then returns to the heart, with this cycle continually repeating itself.
The heart in essence, gives back to the organs and limbs what they sent to it.
The Malbim applies this metaphor of the giver and receiver reflecting and mirroring each other, to our relationship with the Almighty. G-d is the heart of the entire universe. When we practice, observe and exercise His directives and inculcate their pleasant and satisfying ways into our lives, it reflects back to the Almighty and activates a flow of abundant blessing, goodness and kindness that is directed and channeled back to us!
Wishing you a blessed, uplifting and peaceful Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks and family