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Monday, 16 February 2015

How to respond to your critics

Daf Yomi Kesubos 14

I was once watching an interview with a famous celebrity. 
Brimming with confidence, he was responding to all the questions, until she asked him, ‘How do you feel about so-and-so?’ 
He looked at the interviewer with a blank stare and replied sheepishly, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know who that is.’
She replied, ‘Seriously?  He’s your biggest critic in the New York Times!’

The Rabbis taught: Who is considered a widow of uncertainty able to marry a cohen?   Anyone who has no concern of illegitimate, Gibeonite, or royal slave status.   Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar quoted Rabbi Meir: The nation of Israel knows those of illegitimate status amongst them.  And the fact that one is silent and does not protest when he is called illegitimate is because he believes that those of illegitimate status have a reputation.
Rashi explains: His silence is not an admission.  He is simply not bothered by what they are saying.

Many people go through life constantly worried about what others are thinking and saying about them.  And so they end up either too busy responding to their critics to accomplish anything.  Or alternatively they take the ‘safe’ path through life and don’t say or do anything noteworthy at all.  It’s not worth wasting your precious time on the naysayers – they will always find something negative to say.  

If you know that you are doing the right thing, who cares what anyone else is saying about you?  Some people mould their lives or even create careers around criticizing others!  If you are one of those who actually accomplish things in life, you don’t ever need to bother responding to the cynics and the critics.  It’s just a waste of your time and energy.  And you know how precious your time is and what you could accomplish with that extra time and effort!

Certainly, if you want to grow, sometimes you need to listen to constructive criticism.  The way to distinguish the constructive critics from the destructive criticizers is to ask which of them shower praise and give credit where credit is due.  The right people will offer praise at least eighty percent of the time.   Contrast that with the destroyers – you’d be lucky if you heard twenty percent praise from them!

Ignore the critics!   They’re just going to weigh you down and slow you down.  They’re not helping you on your life’s mission, they’re out to destroy.   May you merit the clarity of purpose to forge ahead and not even hear what the naysayers are saying!  

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