What People Think
By Rabbi Raymond Beyda
Peer pressure is a powerful force. Styles of dress, hairstyle and home
furnishings are followed by the great mass of the population because each
one feels that it is important to look sharp in the eyes of others. On the
other side of the coin are the rebels who feel that in order to make a
statement he or she will not follow the trend. The rebel may even behave
in a way contrary to the accepted norm in order to raise a few eyebrows
and exhibit independence and individuality. "I don't care what people
think" is the credo.
Moshe Rabenu said," You shall be clean (vindicated) in the eyes of G-d and
Israel" [Bemidbar 32:22]. A person should be concerned not only to satisfy
the will of the Creator but also must be concerned about his or her
reputation. The respect of others is important too. The concern should not
be to gain the respect of others for the sake of one's honor, rather the
motivation should be that one wants to behave in a manner that is above
reproach because that is the right thing to do.
When one reads stories about the conduct of our great predecessors, one
often can't believe that anyone human could think or act in the way that
they did. One should realize, however, that even if the stories are
exaggerated -- (which they are not) -- no one is telling stories like
that about us. It is the reputation built by the giant of the past -- day
by day -- incident by incident -- that creates an aura of greatness and
respectability around his or her personage to prompt others to write about
his or her life.
Today as you go through life's activities -- work and leisure -- physical
and spiritual -- stop. Consider what others might say about your behavior.
True one should not be controlled by the peer pressure of friends and
neighbors, however, it only takes a minute to paint another beautiful
brush stroke in the picture others will see called -- YOU.
CONSIDER THIS FOR A MINUTE
Rebbi Yohanan said: "We learn fear of sin from a young pure woman." Once
Rebbi Yohanan heard a young girl saying: " Master of the Universe, You
created a Gan Eden and You created a Gehinom. You created the righteous
and you created the wicked. May it be Your will that no one sins because
Rebbi Yohanan sensed the piety of this girl who was fearful that someone
else might be attracted to her and sin in thought or deed. She dressed and
acted in the ways of modesty but feared the possibility that she may bring
another to sin. [Sotah 22a]
Note: One should realize that this young girl did keep all the laws of
modesty as prescribed by the Torah and still she feared that another might
look at her and sin. How much must one guard against bringing others to
Raymond J Beyda
Text Copyright © 2004 by Rabbi Raymond Beyda and Torah.org.