You See What You Need to See – Parashat Noach

October 20, 2014 at 12:02 AM , , ,

“….And Shem and Yefes took the garment, and placed it on both of their shoulders. They walked backwards, and they covered their father’s nakedness. their faces were turned backwards and they did not see their father’s nakedness…..” (Bereishit 9:23) 

״…ויקח שם ויפת את השמלה וישימו על שכם שניהם וילכו אחורנית ויכסו את ערות אביהם ופניהם אחורנית ןערות אביהם לא ראו….״ – בראשית ט,כג

The Baal Shem Tov taught: Flaws that you see in someone else are a mirror of your own faults. From Heaven you were led to discover another person’s shortcomings, for otherwise, your self-love would have caused your own deficiencies in this area to go unnoticed.

Now, that perhaps you were made aware of your friend’s weaknesses in order for you to assist him in dealing with them. But if so, your discovery would be purely of practical nature: in his flaws you would only see a responsibility to help him, not the fact that your friend is less than perfect. The fact that you “were also shown” a critical view of your friend (beyond the simple recognition of your responsibility to help him,) indicates that there’s something in this for you too: it brings attention the areas in which you too could use critique and improvement.

This explains why after the Torah states that Shem and Yefes faced backward, in which case they obviously couldn’t see their father who lay naked in front of them, the verse continues and adds that: Shem and Yefes did not see their father’s nakedness. This means that not only did they not see him naked in a physical sense, as they faced the other direction, but that they also did not see their father’s shame. All they saw was a situation that required and demanded their assistance.


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—Likutei Sichos vol. 10, pp. 24-28






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