Kind Words: Be Prepared For Complaints


Jerusalem in the Fog 0324


The author wishes to remain anonymous

I was driving home one very hot summer day. There were a lot of people asking for a ride — a “tramp” — on the road to Tekoa, south of Jerusalem. I stopped, off course. A young man got in the front seat with me when another crooked, small man on crutches came to ask me for a ride too. He had some speech problem, his face was distressed. He seemed to me to be desperate for some reason. I thought how I would feel if I had to stand under the hot sun, not able to get a ride from anyone. I told him, “Sure, get in.” The young man who was sitting beside me, quietly, between his lips, said, “He’s an Arab!” “OK,” I said, “then please go to the back seat and take care of him.” I took this man, who not only was on crutches, but both his face and hand were very crooked — as if half paralyzed — to the next junction, the entrance to Beit Jalla, an Arab town. He tried to get out of the car with a lot of strain, but he needed help. He fell to the floor and called out to two Arab men to help him, but they didn’t realize he was speaking to them, and they kept on walking. Two women came close to help him but couldn’t, because of his weight. I told the young man sitting in the back, “Please, get out of the car and help this man!” (I couldn’t, from my side: I was holding the crutches and a little bag he was carrying and couldn’t get off in the middle of a very busy road.) He got off and helped the man get on his feet. The little man thanked me gratefully and we went on. The young man was silent. I felt his heavy vibes. “I couldn’t just leave him there,” I said, “It’s a hot day and he evidently has a real problem.” He told me that in his work as a security guard to prevent terrorist bombings, he has seen people disguised as cripples who then went and blew themselves up. “True,” I said, “but I just can’t — and won’t — let my heart become a cold organ of suspicion.” “Kol Hakavod,” he said, “You have my respect. I would have never taken him.”

Warning: Many people have lost their lives picking up hitchhikers.

Jerusalem in the Fog


by Zelig Pliskin

From Kindness: Making a Difference in People’s Lives

Printed with Permission of Sha’ar Press

One of my students told me, “I can’t believe it.” Before I was devoted to helping others, very few people had complaints against me. It seems that the more I do for others, the more that people are upset with me. Those I help, complain, “Why aren’t you doing more?” Those I am unable to help complain, “How come you help other people and not me?” Those who are angry with me for various reasons tell me, “You feel that just because you help people you don’t have to live up to other obligations.” When you devote your life to helping others, you are likely to arouse envy, animosity, and resentment. The needs of the people whom you help can be so great that they will be angry you aren’t helping them even more than you are. Your energy, time, and other resources are limited, so those you don’t help might feel resentful that you do more for others than you do for them. Some people will be envious of the good you do. In order to feel better about themselves, they will find it easier to put you down than to do more themselves. They are likely to challenge your motivations when they say things like:

  • “He only helps others because of his overblown ego.”
  • “She only helps those whom she feels will help her.”
  • “He wants to get ahead politically so he does favors for others.”
  • “She only does kindness because she is compensating for feelings of inferiority.”

Even if it isn’t true, cynical or envious people are likely to make these claims. Someone with mixed motives — he wants to help others and he does enjoy honor — is likely to feel more hurt about this than someone whose motivations are pure. But anyone who has a sensitive nature can feel hurt. Being criticized is part of the price one pays for helping others. This elevates you: You are willing to personally suffer in order to do acts of kindness for others. Acknowledge the truth of a complaint and it will be easier to tolerate.

  • “Yes. I should do a lot more than I am doing. I’m sorry that I’m limited.”
  • “I acknowledge that I am only doing a drop in the bucket of what needs to be done.”
  • “I agree that it would be wonderful if I were doing more than I am.”
  • “Yes. I am inconsistent. But I feel it’s better to continue doing the good that I’m doing than to consistently do nothing for others.”

One of my students explained, “I remember how shocked I was when someone whom I’ve helped greatly told me off in great anger: ‘You aren’t there for me enough when I really need you. OK, so you did help me before but what about lately!'” After this, I was prepared for such occurrences. The next time someone I had helped attacked me for not doing enough for him, I was mentally ready to answer with true compassion, “I’m sorry for not being there when you needed me. I see how much you’ve suffered. It’s really rough.” The amazing thing is that when I said this with sincere concern, the person’s anger subsided and I received an apology. My response was, “That’s all right. I understand the pressure you were under.” We parted with good feelings.

Printed with permission of

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