Growing Each Day by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski

Iyar 19
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There is no such thing as an agent for committing a wrong act ... if a master's instructions conflict with the student's, whom would you obey? (Kiddushin 42b).

With this principle, the Talmud places responsibility for any wrongdoing squarely on the person who carries out the action. "I was told to do it" is not a defense.

The same principle applies to projecting blame on anyone else in any way. Alcoholics frequently employ this device. "We drink because we've been harassed by our wives / jobs / employers / the police," they often say. We understand their motive; placing the blame on others not only exonerates them, it also gives them a way out of facing reality and changing themselves. Instead, they blame others. "If those responsible for our distress will change, the problems will be solved, and we will have no need to drink" is a frequently used line.

This phenomenon is not limited to alcoholics. People in general prefer to continue their accustomed behavior. If they hurt anyone, including themselves, they often try to both justify their behavior and avoid the need to make any changes which seem inconvenient by blaming others.

Regardless of what circumstances may be, we are fully accountable for our own behavior.

Today I shall...

avoid finding scapegoats and placing blame on others. Instead, I will do my utmost to make the necessary changes in myself.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

 

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