Sunday, July 21, 2019

Understanding Community Grooming

“Sometimes we want to believe something so badly that we allow ourselves to be taken advantage of.”
― Aaron B. Powell, Doomsday Diaries III: Luke the Protector





Mary wanted to buy an expensive diamond necklace. Mary had two choices. She could go to the new store that had only been opened for a few weeks, or she could go to the store that Mr. Adams has owned and operated for the past 15 years.

Knowing that she doesn’t know much about diamonds, Mary felt more comfortable going to the store of Mr. Adams. After all, there is good reason why he has been running his shop as long as he has.

Mary found something she liked and she paid $15,000 for her gorgeous new diamond necklace.

After a few weeks, Mary decided that she should probably get this necklace insured. The insurance agent told Mary that she needed to get this piece appraised. Mary was shocked when she was told that not a single diamond on this necklace was real! They were all cubic zirconia!

Not wanting to believe this shocking news. Mary found another appraiser, one not affiliated with her insurance, who told her the same thing.

Filled with a combination of disappointment and anger, Mary went back to the jewelry store where she bought the necklace.

Mr. Adams denied that he sold her anything other that pure diamonds. When she showed him the appraisal and the necklace, he accused her of giving a different necklace to the appraiser.

Mary then started telling people that Mr. Adams conned her.

Mr. Adams sued Mary for slander.

Previous clients of Mr. Adams had their jewelry appraised and when the report came back that they had diamonds, they admonished Mary for trying to destroy Mr. Adams’ life.

Mary couldn’t prove that the necklace she had was the exact one that was sold to her by Mr. Adams and Mr. Adams’ 15 years of honest business was being used as proof that Mary was a liar.

Had this happened at the other store, the new store, Mary would be believed. However, this was an accusation against the store that has such a sterling reputation, thus it was ignored.

Why am I talking about a jewelry store?

Because the script is identical for those who sexually abuse a child.

If someone really wants to swindle someone and get away with it, they will spend time and years making sure that they develop a solid reputation. A reputation that cannot be destroyed by a single accusation.

Just like all those sales of real diamonds doesn’t prove that Mary is lying when she says she was sold a fake, other children saying that they weren’t abused by the accused doesn’t mean that the victim was not abused by the accused.

Just like victims get groomed, family and communities also get groomed.

Some abusers spend YEARS grooming not only their victims, but their families and the entire community as well. 

Sadly, the only way that Mary will be believed is if other people accuse the jeweler of similar tactics.

Sadly, in the current state of our community, victims will only be believed once more victims step forward.




Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.


To contact Yisroel about speaking at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at yisroel@ympicker.com

Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn here
Follow Yisroel on Facebook Here






Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Stages of Grooming


“No person is completely wicked, just as no person is perfect. We are all grey”

― Sweety Shinde





You’re either successful or you’re worthless. You’re smart or you’re stupid. You’re a writer or you’re an artist. Your life is wonderful or it’s terrible. Something is right or it’s wrong. These are examples of all-or-nothing type thinking (also called black-and-white thinking).

For example, a person suffering from all-or-nothing type thinking might struggle with a single question during a long job interview. Despite the interview only being 5% bad (only struggling on a single question), they will say the interview was a bad interview.


This is a negative thinking pattern that's common in people with panic disorder, depression, or other anxiety-related issues. It is also not all that uncommon amongst people without the previous mentioned issues.


Recently, I am noticing a new trend with all-or-nothing type thinking. In the past, all-or-nothing type thinking was used more by people judging themselves (e.g. I am a success/I am a failure). Now it is being used more as a way of people viewing both other individuals, and the world at large.


For example, Jessica knows that she disagrees with her Governor on the topics of traffic cameras, the death penalty and increasing minimum wage. Jessica now hears her Governor’s thoughts on fracking. Despite the fact that Jessica knows zero about fracking, she instinctively disagrees with him. In Jessica’s mind, the Governor is always wrong.

Jessica has “all-or-nothing”ed the Governor.


Example #2: Cooper is against any type of gun control. Cooper has recently discovered a radio show where the host shares Cooper’s beliefs against any government action infringing on the rights of gun owners. Cooper likes this radio host and starts believing every single thing the host opinionates, solely due to the fact that they share an identical belief when it comes to gun control.

Things don’t need to be black or white, most things are shades of gray.

One can agree with a Liberal on one issue and a Conservative on another issue.

Agreeing on one single issue doesn’t mean that one subscribes to all of their beliefs.

Groomers (those abusers who use a technique known as “grooming” as a way to get their victims) know about this “all-or-nothing” type thinking, and they exploit it for their advantage.


The first thing that groomers do is they try to give off the impression that they are righteous and upstanding individuals. They will volunteer their time and their money to assist those in need.

They do this so that community members will be like Cooper in the second example. Just as Cooper took this one shared belief and expanded it across the board, likewise communities often view groomers as “righteous and upstanding” due to their volunteerism, and expand it across the board (i.e. he can’t be an abuser, look how much of an upstanding individual he is!).

The second thing that groomers do is they attempt to select victims who will not get them, the abuser, into trouble. One way of doing this is by selecting a victim who lacks believability within the community. Just like Jessica in the first example immediately dismissed what the Governor had to say about fracking, the community will immediately dismiss what this victim has to say about their abuse and their abuser.

Couple the two examples together and you have yourself someone who has mastered the art of grooming.

There is another flaw within all-or-nothing thinking when it comes to abusers. People mistakenly believe that an abuser not abusing a specific child or children is proof that he hasn’t abused any other child. The fact that ten out of the eleven boys in the karate class insist that their teacher never abused them does not mean that the eleventh boy is automatically lying.

If we want to start believing victims and stop protecting abusers, one of the things we must do, on both an individual level as well as a communal one, is to stop this poisonous all-or-nothing type thinking.


Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more. He also lectures on the topics of communication and child safety.

To have Yisroel speak at your child safety event, or to discuss a personal issue, please email him at: yisroel@ympicker.com
Follow Yisroel on Facebook Here
Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn here








Monday, June 17, 2019

Child Abusers and All-or-Nothing Thinking


“No person is completely wicked, just as no person is perfect. We are all grey”

― Sweety Shinde





You’re either successful or you’re worthless. You’re smart or you’re stupid. You’re a writer or you’re an artist. Your life is wonderful or it’s terrible. Something is right or it’s wrong. These are examples of all-or-nothing type thinking (also called black-and-white thinking).

For example, a person suffering from all-or-nothing type thinking might struggle with a single question during a long job interview. Despite the interview only being 5% bad (only struggling on a single question), they will say the interview was a bad interview.


This is a negative thinking pattern that's common in people with panic disorder, depression, or other anxiety-related issues. It is also not all that uncommon amongst people without the previous mentioned issues.


Recently, I am noticing a new trend with all-or-nothing type thinking. In the past, all-or-nothing type thinking was used more by people judging themselves (e.g. I am a success/I am a failure). Now it is being used more as a way of people viewing both other individuals, and the world at large.


For example, Jessica knows that she disagrees with her Governor on the topics of traffic cameras, the death penalty and increasing minimum wage. Jessica now hears her Governor’s thoughts on fracking. Despite the fact that Jessica knows zero about fracking, she instinctively disagrees with him. In Jessica’s mind, the Governor is always wrong.

Jessica has “all-or-nothing”ed the Governor.


Example #2: Cooper is against any type of gun control. Cooper has recently discovered a radio show where the host shares Cooper’s beliefs against any government action infringing on the rights of gun owners. Cooper likes this radio host and starts believing every single thing the host opinionates, solely due to the fact that they share an identical belief when it comes to gun control.

Things don’t need to be black or white, most things are shades of gray.

One can agree with a Liberal on one issue and a Conservative on another issue.

Agreeing on one single issue doesn’t mean that one subscribes to all of their beliefs.

Groomers (those abusers who use a technique known as “grooming” as a way to get their victims) know about this “all-or-nothing” type thinking, and they exploit it for their advantage.


The first thing that groomers do is they try to give off the impression that they are righteous and upstanding individuals. They will volunteer their time and their money to assist those in need.

They do this so that community members will be like Cooper in the second example. Just as Cooper took this one shared belief and expanded it across the board, likewise communities often view groomers as “righteous and upstanding” due to their volunteerism, and expand it across the board (i.e. he can’t be an abuser, look how much of an upstanding individual he is!).

The second thing that groomers do is they attempt to select victims who will not get them, the abuser, into trouble. One way of doing this is by selecting a victim who lacks believability within the community. Just like Jessica in the first example immediately dismissed what the Governor had to say about fracking, the community will immediately dismiss what this victim has to say about their abuse and their abuser.

Couple the two examples together and you have yourself someone who has mastered the art of grooming.

There is another flaw within all-or-nothing thinking when it comes to abusers. People mistakenly believe that an abuser not abusing a specific child or children is proof that he hasn’t abused any other child. The fact that ten out of the eleven boys in the karate class insist that their teacher never abused them does not mean that the eleventh boy is automatically lying.

If we want to start believing victims and stop protecting abusers, one of the things we must do, on both an individual level as well as a communal one, is to stop this poisonous all-or-nothing type thinking.


Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more. He also lectures on the topics of communication and child safety.

You can email Yisroel at yisroel@ympicker.com
Follow Yisroel on Facebook Here
Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn here








Sunday, June 2, 2019

"Just Get Over It!"

There are life lessons to be seen everywhere, one just needs to have the right spectacles in order to properly see them.
-Unknown



The camp that I went to used to take us to a racquetball club on Fridays. This location had racquetball courts, basketball courts, aerobics classes and fitness equipment.

The last Friday that we went there, one of the campers got hurt on the treadmill. For reasons known only to him at the time, he set the treadmill to start at the fastest setting. Since he couldn’t start that quickly, he immediately fell, and his skin was damaged from landing face first on this fast moving treadmill. It took quite a bit until someone came and shut the machine for him.

Someone finally asked him why he started it on that setting. He replied “Last week I was on the treadmill for 45 minutes, and by the last five minutes, I was on that setting. I figured I would continue where I left off.”

This logic sounds so flawed when it comes to the treadmill, yet people try to apply this flawed logic to other areas as well.

One needs to build gradually in order to reach the level where they can run at the fastest speed. Starting at the fastest speed is a recipe for disaster.

You can’t start at your goal, you need to work towards your goal. Starting at your goal either means that your goal is too low, or that you won’t be able to successfully maintain your goal, due to the lack of buildup.

As foolish as this sounds when it comes to the treadmill, people do this all the time when it comes to dealing with trauma.

People tell others (or the victims try to tell themselves) that they “just need to get over it”.

If there were a pill that people who suffered from trauma (whether it be physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, domestic abuse, or any of the countless other traumas a person might have to deal with during their lifetime) that would help them “move on with their life”, trust me, they would take that pill.
Dealing with a trauma, any type of trauma is a process. No different than many of the other processes in life. There are many steps, and there is a basic order than one must go through.

Please don’t try to convince someone (or yourself if you have had trauma) that they can circumvent the process by cutting to the finish line to “acceptance”

If you want to help someone suffering, be empathetic, be a listening ear. Assist them in getting the help that fits their need. Connect them with resources that are available to someone in their situation.

Under no circumstances should you tell them that they need to move on. Trust me, they already know that they need to. They want to. 

Processes take time. Sometimes they take much more time than one would like.

Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more. He also lectures on the topics of communication and child safety. 
You can email Yisroel at  yisroel@ympicker.com
Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn here

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Hang Up, Call Again

“You can delegate authority, but not responsibility.” 
— Stephen W. Comiskey




HUCA

It is one of the first rules that one needs to know when self advocating a customer service issue.

Hang up, call again.

It means that you don’t need to just accept the answer you were given. You can try again and see if you have better luck with the next representative.

I remember my first HUCA. My laptop stopped working two weeks after its warranty expired. I called customer support and the agent condescendingly reminded me that it was a one year warranty and not a one year and two week warranty.

So I waited a bit and called back. The new agent checked with his supervisor and they decided they would still honor the warranty. Within two weeks I had a repaired and working laptop back in my possession at no cost.

Sometimes all it takes is to try again.

Sometimes speaking with one person is not sufficient. Sometimes a “victory” only happens after the second or third call.

There are so many stories of abuse where witnesses and people with suspicions forget that speaking with one person is not sufficient.

These people don’t “try again”.

Rather than a HUCA mentality, they employ a “pass the buck” (e.g. I told someone so I did what I was supposed to do) method.

Let me use the famous case of Jerry Sandusky to illustrate this point. (Taken from the case timeline on cnn.com)
1. 2000 - James Calhoun, a janitor at Penn State, tells his supervisor and another janitor that he saw Sandusky sexually abusing a young boy in the Lasch Building showers.
2. March 2, 2002 - Graduate Assistant Mike McQueary tells Coach Joe Paterno that on March 1, 2002, he witnessed Sandusky sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy in the Lasch Building showers.
3. March 3, 2002 - Paterno reports the incident to Athletic Director Tim Curley.

In all of the above cases, the person with the information reports it ONLY to a higher up. None of these three ever go to the police.

It would take until 2009 for an investigation to begin, leading to an arrest in 2011.

If only the janitor kept telling people until one of them took appropriate action.
If only he just went to the police.
If only he went back to the police a second time if he felt the police were not following through after his initial visit.
If only Mike McQueary went straight to the police.
If he only spoke with activists and organizations who work in the area of child sexual abuse.

If only…

Instead this one told their supervisor and this one told their boss…

It ends up getting to a point where even if someone EVENTUALLY goes to the police, they have 5th or 6th hand testimony, which doesn’t assist them in opening a case.

The goal with reporting abuse should never be “do just enough to cover your own skin”, it should be “do what you can to protect ALL CHILDREN”.

In cases where police can intervene, the police should be brought in to intervene.

In cases where you are a third party and you see that there are red flags/suspicious behavior, but nothing yet illegal, let people know that there are red flags and previous suspicious behavior.

People as in plural.

People as in many.

Don’t just play hot potato with your information. Never give it to someone else and run away.

Make sure you are getting the desired outcome. Otherwise, hang up, call again.

One should never do more for a laptop than they do to protect children.



Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more. He also lectures on the topics of communication and child safety.  
You can email Yisroel at yisroel@ympicker.com
Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn here 




Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Suit Yourself


People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.

– Maya Angelou








The store where I most recently purchased a suit is going out of business.



I did not find this surprising, given my experience purchasing a suit there.



The purchase went well. The alterations were ok. It was ready to be picked up when they said it would be ready.



Then I arrived to pick it up.



They took my altered suit from the rack. Took it off the hanger and proceeded to stuff it into a small shopping bag that can hold no more than a single box of Corn Flakes.



No garment bag. No large (and wide) shopping bags that the dry cleaners use.



They didn’t even offer me the hanger.



My brand new suit was being treated no differently than a bag of Doritos.



It occurred to me at that moment how sometimes the small things can have a huge impact.



It shouldn’t. We are taught not to let the small stuff bother us.



Teaching is one thing, then comes the real life situation. And in this real life situation this small detail disturbed me.



Then a deeper thought entered my mind.



There was no issue with the suit, just their choice of packaging. The packaging was giving me a negative view towards the store, and even towards my purchase as a whole.



Then I connected the dots.



The suit is the message we give our kids.



The bag is how we package that message. How we deliver the message. It is the words we choose to use (or not use). It is the method we deliver the message (e.g. blunt vs. evasive, written word vs. spoken word, directly from us vs. from a third party).



Step one is making sure the correct message is given over.

Step two is just as important, making sure that the message is delivered properly.

An improperly delivered message will get disregarded by children, no matter how good the message is.



Each child has their own “delivery filter”. There are certain types of messages that their filter will allow, and they have others that their filter will reject.



The key is to find what can get through the filter, and even who can get through the filter.



The same message can have very different results depending on who is delivering it, how it is being delivered and when it is being delivered.





Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more. He also lectures on the topics of communication and child safety. 

You can email Yisroel at yisroel@ympicker.com

Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn here


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Choose Your Battles

“There are certain battles that you pick. When they're not worth picking, they're laughable stories.”
-David Beckham



Recently one of my children needed 30mg of a certain medication that was only available via prescription.

Problem was that this medicine was only available in 10mg, 15mg and 20mg pills.

So the doctor writes two prescriptions, one for the 20mg pill and a second for the 10mg pill.

I get to the pharmacy and after waiting for my turn, I finally get to hand the prescriptions to the pharmacist. Good news is that they have the 20mg in stock, but they are out of the 10mg.

Annoyed that I won’t be able to get all that I need in one place, I ask the pharmacist if I can get my 30mg by getting two 15mg pills, instead of the 20mg+10mg, since they are out of the 10mg.

He told me that despite the fact that it makes no difference for my child whether they get their 30mg by way of two 15mg pills, or via a 20mg pill with a 10mg pill, he is unable to accommodate my request. I will need to go to a different pharmacy to get the 10mg pill that he doesn’t have.

I have nothing against this pharmacist. I understand he is doing his job and his hands were tied by the laws governing the distribution of medicine. But this event led me to ponder how rigid people can be. How people tend to strictly want things done their way, even when they know that there are alternative ways that will yield the exact same result.

Too many times parents fall into this trap with their children. For many parents, it isn’t enough that their kids reach the parent’s desired destination for them, but they must also take the route the parents desire.

This is most prevalent during holidays, especially Pesach.

Let me illustrate this with a conversation I recently had with a person who is a grandfather.

He told me that during his pesach seder he insisted that his grandson eat the boiled potato given to him for karpas. 

The child politely asked the grandfather if he could have celery instead.

The grandfather insisted that the custom in the home was to have the boiled potato.

The child begged the grandfather to let him have celery.

The grandfather acknowledged that while there is no difference vis-a-vis the mitzva as to whether celery or a boiled potato are eaten, nevertheless, the family custom is the potato, so he needed to eat the potato.

As I was listening to the grandfather tell me this story, I was heartbroken. There are so many families who’d love it if their child would even attend a seder. They’d be ecstatic if their child would even eat matza. Yet here the grandfather was arguing not that a mitzva needs to be done, but it needs to be done his way.

Parenting contains lots of battles. Children keep pushing limits to see what they can get away with. It is a constant juggle between carrot (gifts) and stick (punishment). Yet before one even gets to that stage, they need to be able to recognize which fights are worth fighting and which battles one should just walk away from.


Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more. He also lectures on the topics of communication and child safety.  
You can email Yisroel at yisroel@ympicker.com
Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn here

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Identical Background ≠ Identical Responses

Different people need different kinds of communication for it to have the same effect. That was something I had to learn.
-Tobias Lutke

  


Sometimes life lessons come to us from interesting places. A very important life lesson came to me when I went to see “The Lion King” in camp when I was 13 years old.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, one specific scene in the movie would end up having a lifelong impact on me. Not due to the movie itself, but to the reaction that it caused two people.

But first, some background:

Camp used to take us to the movies every Friday. While we were watching movies that the camp approved for kids, the theater would also be showing the more graphic, non-camp approved movies on their other screens. We were under strict orders not to go to the other movies, or we’d be thrown out of camp.

The bus drivers who took us to the movies would also be given movie tickets (what else were they to do for the 2 hours we were watching the film?). Needless to say, given the choices of movies to watch, they always chose to watch the more graphic films.

Then it happened. One camper disobeyed the rules and ran out of “The Lion King” and went into a theater showing a rated R movie. The bus drivers happened to be there, caught him and reported him to the camp staff.

Certainly we knew what was going to happen to this kid, We were warned and we had been told there would not be any second chances.

To our surprise, the camper was not expelled.

In “The Lion King”, there is a scene when the young lion Simba witnesses his father’s death. The camper who left this movie to go see the rated R film had lost his father. His father was a member of the NYPD who was shot and killed in the line of duty. Given the backstory, the camp let the infraction slide.

This left me quite confused. Not just because the camp wasn’t following through with their warning, but because I didn’t understand the justification for leaving “The Lion King”. The reason why I could not understand was because during the film I was sitting next to a friend of mine, and he had no issues with the movie. This friend of mine lost his father to a mugging gone bad. His father was fatally shot and my friend later had to give a victim’s impact statement to the court.

So why was it understandable for the child of the police officer to leave, when my friend was able to stay with no problem? Certainly this proves that the child of the officer could have stayed, thought 13 year old me.

But that thought process is flawed.

It is flawed because people react differently.

Even if two people seem to be identical, don’t believe that they will have similar reactions to the same stimuli. As the movie shows, two children who lost their father due to a fatal gunshot each reacted differently when seeing a story about a child witnessing his father’s death.

Unfortunately, I constantly see people falling into this trap, most notably when it comes to judging victims of sexual abuse. People mistakenly think that a victim is lying because, in their eyes, the victim’s subsequent behavior isn’t how they believe a victim would (or should) act. Different victims will react differently to their victimization.

For example, some survivors will seek assistance from a friend, support group or mental health professional, while others will prefer not to share their traumatic experience with anyone else. Some will self-medicate while others will become workaholics. There are a plethora of ways that survivors attempt to cope with their trauma. Some have very different ways than others.

There are also many different mental health issues that may arise from the trauma of the abuse (e.g. attachment issues, anxiety, anger issues, just to name a few). Different people cope differently and different victims will have different issues that they’ll be struggling with post the abuse.

Sometimes the reactions aren’t just different, they are actually polar opposites.

Victims who have yet to build coping skills can easily be triggered by even the slightest touch. While others with unhealthy coping skills might utilize promiscuous behaviors as a means to minimize their trauma.

To the untrained eye (i.e. one who doesn’t understand coping skills) this appears to be two totally opposite responses to identical traumas. Different responses, even to opposite extremes, are normal as different people (even different children in the same family) will react differently to things in different way.

We need to recognize that people are different. Intervention that is successful with one person might not be successful with another. Stimuli that triggers one person might be nothing to someone else.

That’s ok. What isn’t ok is questioning whether someone is really a victim because you don’t understand their behavior.

It would have been the height of chutzpa to go over to my friend who didn't leave the movie and question whether his father was really murdered. The fact that the movie didn’t trigger him and didn’t cause him to leave doesn’t mean that his father’s death was not traumatic for him.

It is also the height of chutzpa when people do the exact same thing to abuse victims.

Don’t ever question someone’s trauma solely based on your narrow/personal/subjective view as to how someone in their position should react.

Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more. He also lectures on the topics of communication and child safety.  
You can email Yisroel at yisroel@ympicker.com
Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn here










Monday, February 25, 2019

Looking for the Perfect One





אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל מפני מה לא נמשכה מלכות בית שאול מפני שלא היה בו שום דופי דאמר רבי יוחנן משום רבי שמעון בן יהוצדק אין מעמידין פרנס על הציבור אלא אם כן קופה של שרצים תלויה לו מאחוריו שאם תזוח דעתו עליו אומרין לו חזור לאחוריך



-מסכת יומא דף כב:




R’ Yehuda said in the name of Shmuel. Why was it that the kingdom of Shaul (Saul) did not continue? I.e. why did it not become a lasting monarchy?
Because Shaul did not have any faults [with his lineage]. For R’ Yochanan says in the name of R’ Shimon ben Yehotzadak, we do not appoint one to be a leader of people unless he has a “box of vermin hanging behind him” (what we would call skeletons in one’s closet). So that if he starts becoming haughty, we tell him, look behind you (look at where you came from i.e. your lineage)
-Yoma 22b

When it comes to looking for others to fill a role, whether it be a new employee, a spouse for oneself or one’s children, etc. People tend to look for perfection. Many end up “settling” for less than what they hoped for, others are still waiting for the “perfect one”.

The above gemarra teaches us an eye opening lesson.

Perfection is it’s own fault!!

No, it isn’t talking about perfectionism, where people have an unhealthy desire to do things perfectly. It is talking about actual perfection!

Every single person, from pauper to king needs to be able to accept constructive criticism.  The gemarra is teaching us that a king who cannot be criticized isn’t worthy of a lasting dynasty.

But to truly understand the weight of this lesson one needs to see the prior gemarra.
That’s where the gemarra discusses the holiness of King Shaul. How he was like a one year old baby, in that he never tasted sin. It is followed up by showing how R’ Nachman suffered for not showing King Shaul the proper respect.

So he never tasted sin, he was very worthy of respect, yet because he had perfect lineage, that’s why he could not have a lasting dynasty.

This teaches us two invaluable points.
1. That perfection is it’s own fault
2. That one needs to make themselves open to receive constructive criticism.
These are important lessons in all areas of life, perhaps it is most valuable in the area of shidduchim. Sometimes it is the boy or girl themselves, more often it is the parents who have a huge “checklist” of criteria that needs to be met in order for a shidduch to go through.

Just remember the gemarra in Yoma and stop searching for perfection, especially when it comes to family and yechus.

Even if you do end up finding it, you might discover that it isn't the positive that you thought it would be.


Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more. He also lectures on the topics of communication and child safety.
You can email Yisroel at yisroel@ympicker.com
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