Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

16 Iyar 5761 - May 9, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
The Other Side of the Coin
by R' Zvi Zobin

Moshe's purse was full of large golden coins. It was worth a small fortune. But it was so heavy! "Oye!" thought Moshe. "This is so heavy -- what a pain to have to carry it home!"

Sorah's new freezer was the latest model and it had a huge capacity. Now she would be able to cook at least six months in advance and prepare for family simchas. "But it's so big and takes up so much room in the kitchen!" she thought.

Both Moshe's and Sorah's complaints are valid -- the purse is heavy and the freezer is big. However, they both appreciate the good aspect of their new acquisitions.

The point which needs to be made here is not that we need to take the good with the bad and tolerate a little discomfort, though this might be true.

In a situation like this, we need to understand that the reason why it is bad is because it is good! If Moshe's purse were to be less heavy, it would be less valuable because the weight causes the value. Similarly, if Sorah's freezer would be smaller, it would not be able to have such a large capacity -- and she wants that large capacity.

In both situations, the good and the bad are the two sides of the same coin.

Similarly, if you buy a big house, one side of the coin is that you have plenty of room for family and guests, but the other side of the coin is the heavy maintenance costs and expenses and the necessity to check many rooms for chometz before Pesach. Or, if you buy a powerful heater, you can expect to get a big bill at the end of the month. In both these examples, the "good" aspect is a direct cause of the "bad" aspect and the "bad" side is causing the "good" side.

The same principle applies to many aspects of human nature and relationships. Often, we might like and appreciate certain aspects of someone's nature and accomplishments, yet be turned off by other character traits. Yet, often, the undesirable characteristics are simply the "other side of the coin" to the good aspects.

For example, a person might be very exact and precise, yet take a long time to do tasks that other people can do quickly. Or a child might be lively and cheerful and enjoyable company, yet his teacher might find that he cannot sit still in class. Or a person might be creative and artistic but dream out when he attends a lecture.

When a "bad" aspect is a consequence of a good aspect, it can be straightforward to attempt to improve the "bad" aspect without endangering the "good' aspect. For example, if a person is slow and methodical and needs to complete a task by a certain time, he can start earlier than other people. But when you are dealing with "the other side of the coin," there is a danger that attempting to change the "bad" side might harm the good aspect.

So, if we try to make the methodical worker work faster, we might teach him to be sloppy, or if we try to get the lively child to sit still in class, we might make him less cheerful. Similarly, trying to get the dreamer to focus more intently might decrease his creativity.

Herein lies the danger in simply relating to the "bad" aspects of a person's performance, without relating also to the good aspects. This is especially critical when dealing with children. Curbing good traits and suppressing talents at that stage can subdue them for life. Therefore, when dealing with children, we need to be able to discern a child's "good" points before attempting to remediate the child's failings.


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