However, the negative aspects are so easy to see, they often jump out at us.
Or, if someone seems oh-so perfect, we actively seek out his or her defects (unless we feel better served by raising him or her upon the highest pedestal possible in cultist adoration).
But according to authentic Torah Judaism, you've only seen the real picture when you've found the good aspects of the person or situation.
It doesn't mean you see a bad person or an evil situation as all sweetness & light.
Whitewashing isn't the goal here. (Whitewashing can even cause terrible damage.)
But simply find a point of light.
That's because everything comes from Hashem.
If you can't see Hashem's spark in there somewhere, you're missing something.
So here are a couple of stories of regular frum people behaving exceptionally...
...because good people always deserve more attention than bad people.
Grace in the Face of Errant Chicken Legs
She seemed so perfectly lovely, eidel, wholesome and so perfectly FFB, I felt a bit intimidated as we all partook of the Shabbat meal together.
She was a teenage Beis Yaakov girl, either from Lakewood or New York, and I imagined her life & knowledge as very different—and better—than mine.
While trying to remove the meat from my chicken drumstick with a knife & fork, I made a wrong move.
The drumstick shot off my plate and skidded across the table before coming to a stop when it hit the edge of the plate of the lovely girl.
"Oh!" she instinctively said in surprise.
I was so embarrassed, I couldn't even speak and instead just looked at her in open-mouthed consternation.
She blinked, then took on relaxed buddy-buddy persona. "Oh," she said, flapping her hand reassuringly. "That happens to me ALL the time." And she gave me an encouraging smile while nodding her head.
Her friend sitting next to her, Lakey from Lakewood, looked at her like, What? No, it doesn't!
But Lakey tactfully didn't say anything.
However, I was thinking the same thing as Lakey apparently was.
But the lovely girl's gracious response helped me recover enough to apologize. "I'm really sorry about that."
"It's fiiiiine," she said, still playing oh-so casual—as if she really did shoot drumsticks on a regular basis at Shabbos meals.
"That's really nice of you," I said. And I meant it.
In response, she just blinked & gave me an innocent smile as if she had no idea what I meant.
I got to know her (and Lakey) a bit more throughout the year, and found her to be consistently sweet & refined.
Lakey was also an exceptionally good & mature young woman with a solid head on her shoulders.
Across the table from me sat a brother-sister duo from Lakewood, doing their "year in Israel." They were younger siblings of a rebbetzin the hosts had known back in the USA.
When the host asked the brother where he was learning, the brother answered, "Ponovezh."
I innocently asked, "What's that?"
The brother frowned, then raised his eyebrows and said, "Ponovezh?"
"Yeah," I said. "What is it? Like, I'm assuming it's a yeshivah. But what kind of yeshivah is it?"
He blinked. "You don't know what Ponovezh is?"
He wasn't being rude or critical, just in a state of genuine disbelief.
Or maybe he thought I might be pulling his leg.
So that's not a comfortable situation for him either.
At that point, the couple started chuckling in a good-natured manner.
Meanwhile, the younger sister, Zissy, was looking at each of us with increasing consternation.
"Oh," I said, my shoulders drooping, but trying to be good-humored about it. "Is that like asking what Harvard is?"
Still chuckling, the couple nodded and said, "Yeah, kind of."
"Oh, okay," I said, nodding & still trying to act like I found it funny too. But inside, I felt a little embarrassed and like, Am I ever going to catch up? Clearly, I'm still not getting the really obvious stuff that everyone else seems to know already.
At this point, Zissy looked outright distressed as she kept glancing around at all of us.
Then a look of resolve came over Zissy. She turned to me with a smile and in the friendliest way, she said, "Why should you know what Ponovezh is?"
Immediately, everyone stopped chuckling and her older brother frowned in puzzlement.
Then Zissy leaned back and, taking on an oh-so-casual demeanor, she waved her hand as she said, "I mean, what is Ponovezh anyway? Like, who cares about Ponovezh?"
Her brother's eyes widened as if thinking: Why is my little sister suddenly speaking weirdness & kefirah?
Then frowning, he turned to her to say something, but Zissy immediately gave him a big clenched-jaw smile with eyes that clearly said, Nu, big brother, JUST PLAY ALONG WITH ME—got it?
Then she turned back to me with her oh-so-casual demeanor and said, "After all, if my brother wasn't attending Ponovezh, I'd have no idea what it is..."
Now her brother blinked & looked amused. He realized what had happened.
Then the host proceeded to offer a brief explanation of Ponovezh's history (punctuated by remarks from Zissy, like "Oh, wow!" and "Oh, great—I just learned something new!").
Zissy's attempt to lessen my discomfort with such transparent play-acting both amused & touched me deeply.
I also felt secretly gratified that I must look like someone who knew what Ponovezh was—and that a world existed in which Ponovezh mattered while Harvard didn't.
Also, the chuckling hostess was a good friend of mine, a friend who often behaved with exceptional nurturing & sensitivity. We were very comfortable with each other, which is why she felt comfortable chuckling & didn't immediately realize I might not feel equally humored.
A New Dimension of Sensitivity
Both girls completely focused on the discomfort of a stranger—and focused so wholly that they ignored their own kavod (ego, honor) in their mission to save the other's kavod.
In fact, neither seemed to sense her own kavod in their heartfelt attempt to save mine.
And due to their youth & inexperience, they did so with profoundly charming transparency.
It was obvious to everyone (including me) what they were doing, that what they said wasn't true at all.
(Meaning, the first girl never shot food off her plate while Zissy, an excellent student at the finest schools Lakewood & Yerushalayim had to offer, certainly knew all about & held in great esteem Ponovezh yeshivah.)
But as young women who grew up learning how the Mishneh says embarrassment is like killing a person, and how the Chumash & mefarshim show Tamar preferred to die rather than risk embarrassing Yehudah ben Yaakov—young women who took these lessons to heart—they cultivated a whole new dimension of sensitivity toward others.
It's a dimension in which you're willing to downgrade yourself in order to upgrade the other.
And the fact they did so with an obviousness that seemed foolish to others—putting themselves at risk for embarrassment—made it all the more meaningful.
Probably they never even realized how meaningful & exceptional their actions were; they simply acted on their own innate sense of compassion.
It was a beautiful kiddush Hashem on their part.
This was a huge lesson to me: the lengths the Torah inspires us to go in sensitivity to others.
(And also to see how Hashem really does grant parents ruach hakodesh when naming their child—Zissy truly lived up to her name!)