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A Time And Place For Everything

February 4, 2016

“Never Assume every critic is a hater. Not everyone is hating on you. Some people are telling you the truth”

This week’s Torah Parsha (Portion) Mishpatim in a Nutshell from Chabad
Following the revelation at Sinai, G‑d legislates a series of laws for the people of Israel. These include the laws of the indentured servant; the penalties for murder, kidnapping, assault and theft; civil laws pertaining to redress of damages, the granting of loans and the responsibilities of the “Four Guardians”; and the rules governing the conduct of justice by courts of law.
Also included are laws warning against mistreatment of foreigners; the observance of the seasonal festivals, and the agricultural gifts that are to be brought to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem; the prohibition against cooking meat with milk; and the mitzvah of prayer. Altogether, the Parshah of Mishpatim contains 53 mitzvot—23 imperative commandments and 30 prohibitions.
G‑d promises to bring the people of Israel to the Holy Land, and warns them against assuming the pagan ways of its current inhabitants.
The people of Israel proclaim, “We will do and we will hear all that G‑d commands us.” Leaving Aaron and Hur in charge in the Israelite camp, Moses ascends Mount Sinai and remains there for forty days and forty nights to receive the Torah from G‑d.

Last week a friend Neville suggested that I should add some additional information on my Social Media posts about the coffee, cafés and beer post that I make. I suppose he wanted me to try to be a “food” critic!
I have never thought of myself as a food or drink critic. I just post for the fun of showing the cafes, beers and the food that I try. I leave others to be the critics and don’t believe that I have a sufficient knowledge on these topics or products to actually formally crit/ review.
I don’t normally quote a previous Parsha, but reading a Drasha by Rabbi Frand(1) on Parsha Yisro that was relevant to the topic I have decided to share it. Rav Yeruchem Levovitz, the Mir Mashgiach (supervisor of the students), zt”l, observed: “Yisro had a certain quality which can be considered positive or negative — he was a critical person. He looked at situations and did not shy away from offering criticism when he felt the situation demanded it.” Rav Yeruchem wonders whether this quality of criticism is a positive attribute or not? He says that there is an acid test to determine whether being a critic is a good quality or not. If a person applies criticism to himself as well, it is a good quality; if he only criticizes others, it is a bad quality.
Rabbi Frand says that such a person, who uses his power of criticism, not only on others and other institutions, but who applies it to himself as well, has developed a very positive human characteristic. The point being that there is no midah [quality] in life that is all bad or all good. In fact, that is why midos are called midos, because midah also means measure. Whether it is anger or jealousy or desire or whatever it may be – there is a positive place to channel those (usually negative) qualities as well.
I like everyone really enjoy reading crits/ reviews to get ideas on café to visit, beers to drink, hotels to stay at and movies to watch. With social media and APPS like Broadsheet, Instagram, Untappd, TripAdvisor and Zomato on our phones it is so easy. (and the old fashion Movie or Book reviews in the newspapers)
File 3-02-2016, 8 42 55 PMNot all reviews and crits are to get ideas or make decisions. You can also learn from crits. One of my favourite crits to read is the My Day on Plate in the Sunday Age. Someone (normally a well nown personality) gives a description of their daily diet and nutritionist Dr Joanna McMillan provides comments. Loren and I have learnt a fair amount from her comments on a balanced diet and love to guess what we think she will say.
But going back to where I started – I like to read crits/ reviews to get ideas and to learn. People have asked me to provide a crit/ review. Do I have the right and or responsibility to provide these crits/ reviews? Do I need the necessary knowledge to provide these reviews or can they be based on MY opinion?

There is another point. Hopefully the recipient will acknowledge my comments. In this weeks Parsha, the Torah describes the law of the Hebrew indentured servant. He is sold into “slavery” for a six year period, at the end of which, he goes out free. However, the Torah stipulates that if at the end of that period he chooses to remain with his master, he is brought to court, his ear is pierced at the door and then he remains in servitude ‘forever’. Why the Ear? I heard a beautiful thought from Rabbi Menachem Chanan. He said that with your ear you can hear the comments or lessons, you can take these comments in and hopefully you can learn from the comments/ crits or reviews that you receive. Very often people hear what needs to be done, but they don’t listen. They don’t internalize it. 

Rabbi Frand says – “Is being quiet a good character trait? It depends. When one is not worthy to pasken (to rule or give advice on a topic or within Jewish Law), it is good to be quiet. When one is worthy to pasken it is bad to be quiet. Everything has a time and place. Even silence — in the wrong place — can be equivalent to murder.”

I suppose that there is a Time and Place for Everything.

To end I just heard the following quote on the Rich Roll Podcast this week from Hip Hop Mogul Russell Simmons(2) – “It’s okay to get along with people you disagree with; in fact, it’s critical that we all try to put ourselves in other people’s shoes because I believe we all have the same hopes, desires. We are all inspired by the same kinds of things—we want to love and be loved.”


(1) – Torah.Org
(2) – Russell Wendell Simmons (born October 4, 1957) is an American business magnate. The Chairman and CEO of Rush Communications co-founded the hip-hop music label Def Jam and created the clothing fashion lines Phat Farm, Argyleculture, and Tantris. Simmons most recently launched All Def Digital, an original content channel on YouTube with over a million subscribers. Simmons has been described as the third richest figure in hip hop, having a net-worth estimate of $340 million in 2011. He has just written a book – The Happy Vegan


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