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The Only Thing Worse than Sin

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Visitor Comments: 18

(11) Anonymous, September 24, 2011 12:21 PM

Look inward, not outward

Your message spoke to me. Last week I was shocked when a “flame” email came to me at work after I had proposed some changes to improve an important process. The person who wrote the email to me had been point on these processes in past was very defensive. “What’s wrong with him/her?” was my first reaction. “Can’t he/she be open to suggestions?” To your message today, isn’t one manifestation of denial the (almost unconscious) tendency to look for fault in the other before looking for fault in ourselves? I reread my process improvement suggestions several times, but nothing jumped out at me that would have caused such an extreme, negative reaction. If I reject the conclusion “I didn’t do anything wrong. This is all on him/her!” and look more deeply at my role I in this working relationship, maybe I can overcome my unconscious denial and find my actual culpability in the situation.

(10) Alan S., September 23, 2011 10:31 AM has a piece on the morality of being overweight. While many of the comments here, as well as comments posted on the article on the site are smart and honest, it is my belief that the issue of being overweight is the canary in the mine, so to speak. It is truely the slipperiest of slopes to start to question various life style choices -- and yes, eating too much and not exercising enough, are lifestyle choices, for better or worse. Again, this is not the forum to debate this issue. Please -- there are plenty of tzaddikim that are clearly overweight; are we to say that they are sinning? (Regardless of whether they are or are in denial about it.) After all is said and done, one would be hard pressed to find a lifetstyle choice that is beyond reproach in some capacity, also probably involving self denial and dare I say, sinning. Yes, during Yom Kippur, one of the sins we ask Hashem for forgiveness does speak to these issues. Besides Hashem, who is to judge?

(9) Shulamis Mallet, September 21, 2011 8:50 AM


Dear Rabbi Saloman, amv"s, your comment reminds me of the phrase that "denial is more than just a river in Egypt". I think we all put our head in the sand from time to time. Although it may be a good way to find seed and to see what's happening under our feet, it could also be dangerous. We should be doing constant checks on ourselves as a whole. When we say, Shmona Esrei we start byt taking 3 steps back, then 3 steps forward before we bow. Before we go forward, we have to step back to remember where we came from. We then recognize G-d's sovereignty, our failures and make requests and bless G-d for fulfilling our requests. We don't always recognize when G-d is fulfilling our requests or that what He does is with our best interests at heart. We forget that what we want isn't always what's best for us. Sometimes a parent has to say no, for the greater good. That doesn't mean that we're not listened to, or that our requests won't be answered shortly. That's where faith comes in. Modim itself is a reminder that we have to be grateful for all that we have, at all times. We get so caught up in our problems, in our own worlds that we forget to be grateful for all that we have. We forget to be responsible for others or that having patience isn't a choice, it's a requirement. We take so much for granted, as if it's coming to us, we forget that the very air that we breathe is a gift. At the end of Shmona Esrei, we again take 3 steps back, but this time we turn to the right, then to the left and then forward, as if taking a moment to take stock of where we were. While doing this, we make a bid for peace. Then we take 3 steps forward, and raise ourselves as in Kiddusha. The difference between the steps in the beginning of S"E and those at the end tell the tale. When we take those steps backward and turn to see where we were, and recognize all around us, we can raise ourselves up higher. We give ourselves momentum, like a jumper that is about to make a major leap.

(8) Rachel, September 21, 2011 2:58 AM

What about despair?

It seems to me that the flip side of denial is despair -- the fear that one's past is too difficult to overcome. I think many people who seem to be "in denial" are putting on that face because they don't want to reveal awareness of the depth of the problem but then admit that they don't think they can solve it.

Nechama, September 25, 2011 11:36 AM


hI Rachel, I was reading your comment about despair, and if I am understanding it correctly, I believe if you do not deal with your past and if you or the other party are in denial or will not acknowlede what they have done wrong in the past, how can one move forward and forgive and progress, surely that all falls under denial and for me it is worse than sin itself. Do you agree? I look forward to your comments

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