Looking beyond both the very real and understandable emotional hurt and the often ugly messenger, Hashem wants us to focus on the actual message.
And rather than feeling like a horrible person who is as low as the person who struck out at you, you hopefully realize that Hashem simply magnified your own nugget of character flaw thousands of times in the form of the ugly messenger—all so that you don’t miss the message.
And it’s out of love.
Hashem intended you to be more than whatever you are now and out of love and the knowledge that He created you as a special person who indeed can be more, He keeps nudging you upward in the right direction until you reach His Goal for you.
But I noticed that there are three other reasons why you might find yourself under attack.
1) A Taste of the Old You - YUCK!
- You don’t do it anymore and you can’t imagine doing it now, but maybe you just need that atonement or that reminder. You need to feel what your former targets felt, so you get it in This World, leaving your place in the Next World all clean and shiny.
- Additionally, maybe you changed, but didn’t officially confess it. So now you can say to Hashem, “I did this-and-such and I am sorry. It was really wrong of me and I regret it. I have resolved to distance myself from such unfitting behavior by now doing that-and-such.” Along those lines, maybe there is someone you need to apologize to and reassure that you would never do this-and-such again.
2) You're Not as Bad as You Think
Then Hashem brings along someone to show you that it’s possible to be much worse!
Hey, you’re not doing nearly as badly as you thought!
For example, there are things you might do occasionally by accident that others do frequently on purpose and with great relish. Thank God, you’re not them.
It’s really a point of humble gratitude because while your flaws are from Hashem, your positive attributes are from Hashem, too.
Whether He imbued you with, say, a certain amount of empathy or a thirst for meaning, or whether you got that from your upbringing (either because it was so good or because it was so bad, it inspired you to live differently), He apparently didn’t do that for the other person.
- There are people who genuinely get a little thrill when they hurt someone else, even if that person is their own child or someone else they supposedly love.
- There are people who genuinely value Las Vegas over Jerusalem.
3) Relationship Chess
(Please see Part I: How to Deal with Blabbering Fault-Finders for a detailed description of this.)
Furthermore, you are NOT ALLOWED to give the benefit of the doubt to people who consistently and intentionally indulge in halachically forbidden behavior.
(The exception is IF you have the power to influence them positively, then you may associate with them for that purpose, as explained in the Pele Yoetz and the Kli Yakar, among others. For a detailed discussion of this, please see Part II: The Happy Cure for Blabbermouthed Fault-Finders.)
And if you’ve internalized Torah values to some extent, you’ll see on your own that you’ll start to feel uncomfortable around halachically forbidden behavior, whether it’s lashon hara or your sister eating a bacon double cheeseburger right in front of you.
Finally, Judaism’s rule of thumb is that good people are designated as agents of good while people who aren’t so good are designated as agents of bad. So even if there is a Heavenly din on you decreeing that you must be sniped at or slandered, this din generally won’t be carried out by a good person.
So when you encounter people who enjoy being snipey or materialistic or whatever, that is a Heavenly hint for you to create some distance.
However, all emotional and physical distancing should be accompanied by spiritual caring, such as praying for the problematic person.