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Eliot Spitzer's Downfall

Eliot Spitzer's Downfall

Before we engage in schadenfreude, let's be sure our own behavior and character could withstand the scrutiny.


The Talmud teaches us "kol haposel bemumo posel" -- whatever blemish you attribute to another is a blemish that you yourself possess. In contemporary terms, this seems to translate as "the louder you scream about family values, the more likely you are to be found in a compromising situation in a hotel room in Las Vegas."

The news and political world is full of examples, Eliot Spitzer being the latest in a long line.

But before we engage in schadenfreude, before we indulge that perverse pleasure we take in seeing the high and mighty get their comeuppance, we should examine the verse again.

The advice, the warning, the psychological insight contained therein is not limited to our political leaders or government officials or Hollywood celebrities. It applies to all of us.

We all need to be introspective. We all need to be self-aware. We all need to examine our thoughts, our characters, our motivations. Especially when criticizing someone else.

The next time we get annoyed at the actions of a friend, we would do better to turn the magnifying glass inward.

Because yes, it is most often true that an unattractive quality in another, a habit or behavior that really bothers us and gets on our nerves, does so for the very reason that it is all too familiar. We recognize it in ourselves.

The next time we get annoyed at the actions of a friend or relative we would do better to turn the magnifying glass inward. Is that my own anger I see? My own impatience? My own tendency to speak gossip?

Does that gossip bother me because it is such a violation of Torah and our obligation to love each other or because it reminds me all too clearly of my own propensity for being the bearer of such juicy tidbit?

When I watch someone yelling at the bank teller, am I offended because I am empathic to the teller's good nature and desire to do her job responsibly, by the unfairness of the attack? Of is it that such a public display of anger reminds me how close my own feelings are to the surface, how easily I could be triggered, possibly how tempted I am to behave the same way?

It is never pleasant to watch the public humiliation of fellow human beings. Whatever their crime. Even if they deserve it. Because we are human too. And it could all too easily have been us.

Whenever we become self-satisfied, too assured of the rightness of our approach and the appropriateness of our character, we put ourselves at risk. We too, could step over the line. Only humility keeps us in check. And the remembrance of Who is watching.

Instead of rejoicing in his downfall, we should re-examine our own lives, we should make sure our own behavior and character could withstand the scrutiny. That should keep us too busy to worry about anyone else.

March 10, 2008

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Visitor Comments: 67

(67) J LaLone, March 31, 2008 4:28 PM

I worried about his zeal and fervor

People of extremes always concern me. I never believe they speak the truth fully. But, Mr. Spitzer did not ruin those cops lives that were prosecuted. Those cops ruined there own lives. Is being caught what causes the ruin? No, it is the criminal behavior. Ms Braverman is on target, just as Mr. Spitzer was in error in rejoicing about bringing criminals down, so we too, should not rejoice in his ruin. We can be glad for justice, but we should not rejoice. I still believe very sincerely that many Hilary haters really detest her for surviving a situation that would have devastated most of us. Just as many rejoice in the fall of others, so to do many resent that some people do not break when it seems that they would/should. There is much jealousy and spite that lives in the world, and people seem to think it's ok, that it does no real harm. They are wrong. Just as gossip destroys lives, so too does jealousy and leads to gossip and gossip leads to more overt acts of terrorism. People terrorize co-workers, neighbors and family every day. I fear these terrorists far more that Al Queda. Better that my enemies should be strangers than people I know.

(66) candy, March 30, 2008 9:28 PM


In response to Michael's comments I would like to say that I agree with empathizing with Mrs Spitzer and the children and yes, I agree with the "Dirty Cop" comment. The men whose lives are ruined? Well, in all honesty that was the men's choices. The law was enforced and they were to held accountable. Let us not point fingers at Eliot Spitzer. Instead let us look at our own lives.

(65) Ilana, March 30, 2008 10:29 AM

Anyone would expect more from a governor, let alone a jewish one!

What a chillul Hashem! I believe that governor Elliot Spitzer must be held accountable for the gravity of his crime towards his wife, family, and the city of New York.

(64) Rachel, March 30, 2008 6:24 AM

Good Riddance to Spitzer

Gov. Spitzer was a very mean bully who ruined other people's lives with accusations that made Page 1 of the NY Times and the acquittals, if they were covered at all, were usually buried. There is nothing in myself anywhere remotely resembling his mean, bullying nature. He offends me because he is the opposite of what I think decency is all about - whether he ever went to a prostitute or not. He was using the NY State Police to try to find any scandal associated with Republican leader Joe Bruno. I have no idea whether his wife knew about his whoring, but I am not aware of her objecting to his bullying tactics in his political life.

I think while Rebbetzin Braverman has a point that sometimes we criticize others who have our own failings, it is not always the case. I would love to see Obama's Rev. Wright take a very big downfall, too, and I can safely say I share none of his hate-mongering and race-bating. He deserves the downfall because he uses his pulpit to feed ignorance and hatred. I do NOT do those things.

I would love to see Hillary Clinton fall down on her face because she & Bill have terrified people for over a decade with their bullying and thuggish ways. Now her habits of lying are starting to hurt her.

It is entirely possible to criticize people who have flaws that we do NOT have, and to be glad that bad people have gotten off the stage. Spitzer has an awful lot of work to do if he wants to redeem himself. He can start by trying to make it up to his family and to some of his victims that he falsely accused of crimes in his tenure as AG.

(I never noticed that the ACLU objected to Spitzer's trampling of individual's Constitutional rights - what a bunch of hypocrites.)

(63) Michael, March 21, 2008 1:12 PM

Don't compare apples to oranges.

It is true that we all have weaknesses and it is true that we should not draw conclusions without examining our own motives. However, this is not a simple case of a man allowing his passions to get out of control. Prostitution is a crime! When Eliot Spitzer was the attorney general of New York he was obligated to uphold the law. This man was using certain prostitutes at the same time he was prosecuting others. Even worse, he was actively protecting HIS favorite prostitution ring! Folks, that's what's known as a "dirty cop"! Tell me, how many men's lives were ruined when Eliot Spitzer busted them. Don't get me wrong, I don't wish him any harm, but he must be held accountable for his behavior. If you are looking to be empathetic, try focusing on Mrs. Spitzer and her children.

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