A Judge of Character

Image: Two tape measures curled across a field (Alicja/Pixabay)

Rabbi Ilai used to say, “A person may be revealed in three ways: how they drink, how they spend, and how they express anger. And some say, they also reveal their true nature in their laughter.” – Eruvin 65b

Using this standard, how do we each reveal ourselves?

How do I behave when I drink? – Slow Lorist suggested a set of questions I prefer to my original version: It’s valuable to see how someone interacts with their own impairment…or with the potential for it. Do they drink to excess, or stop while they’re tipsy? (This is “how they drink” taken literally, and I think it makes more sense that way.) Do they eat as soon as they realize they’re hungry, and keep snacks on hand so they don’t spend a long time in that underfed snappish state? Do they apologize for what they did while they were at less than their best?

What does my behavior about money reveal about me? – Money is a limited resource, even for the wealthiest people. What do we do with our limited resources? What does my spending say about my priorities? When I overspend, on what do I overspend?

How do I express anger?  – Do I express my anger directly to the person with whom I am angry, or do I express it to a third party? Do I express anger at all? When and to whom say that I am angry? When I am angry, do I act out physically as well? When I do something inappropriate in my anger, what then? Do I blame it on the person or situation that made me angry, or do I take responsibility for my own emotions?

What makes me laugh? – Do I laugh at myself? Do I laugh at other people? Do I laugh when I am nervous? What sorts of things do I find funny? What does that reveal about me?

Are these standards you might use when deciding upon a person’s character? How do you decide if someone is a person of character?

 

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rabbiadar

Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi based in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, mom, poodle groomer, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at https://coffeeshoprabbi.com/ as the Coffee Shop Rabbi.

2 thoughts on “A Judge of Character”

  1. I don’t think intoxication or low blood sugar reveals a person’s truest self—what a puzzling assertion. How could a “truest self” depend on consuming a substance?

    I do think it’s valuable to see how someone interacts with their own impairment, though, or with the potential for it. Do they drink to excess, or stop while they’re tipsy? (This is “how they drink” taken literally, and I think it makes more sense that way.) Do they eat as soon as they realize they’re hungry, and keep snacks on hand so they don’t spend a long time in that underfed snappish state? Do they apologize for what they did while they were at less than their best?

    Like

    1. I like yours much better too! I think I’ve had painkillers on the brain lately, since I’ve had to take them and dislike being impaired.

      I am going to modify the post accordingly. Thank you!

      Like

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