Seeing yourself from the outside

judge myself from the inside. I know how I feel, how complex are my own motivations and ideas. My view of others is different. Especially when they do something I dislike, I often attribute a single motive, idea or personality trait to them.

Perhaps for this month of Elul we should reverse the process. Try seeing yourself from the outside — how do my actions affect others? How do they appear to them? At the same time, try to judge others from the inside: what could have moved them to do this, or why might they have done something I think is wrong — can I find good reasons for their action?

You can only see the world through your own eyes. But detachment — the attempt to move away from the center of ego toward the perspective of another — is a crucial moral exercise. Believing in the depth and complexity of other souls takes work. But then, we want them to see us that way, don’t we?

Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @RabbiWolpe. His latest book is “David: The Divided Heart” (Yale University Press).

About the Author
Named the most influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post, David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California.