What is the best way to deal with a critical person?
Now I am going to speak first of all from the viewpoint of the critical person. The best way a critical person should deal with himself, is to keep quiet. Only if you are counseling and you are capable of giving good advice, and it's essential that the advice should be said, and the person to whom you are speaking will listen to you, then you can utilize your abilities to give criticism.
In most cases criticism is a result of a desire to be vexatious. Almost every case. It's a tragedy – the bickering between husbands and wives, good people are wasting their careers. Instead of speaking to each other only kindly words, or not saying anything, they engage in exchanges of acrimony, constantly needling each other for years and years. The effects on their health is certainly not beneficial, but the effects on their neshomos are terrible. They are wasting an opportunity, it's lost lives.
And how important it is for men and women to learn, that פיה פתחה בחכמה, don't say something unless it's wisdom! ותורת חסד על לשונה, and it must conform to the doctrines of kindliness! Otherwise don't talk! What a glorious house it would be, when a husband and wife don't talk! And finally when something is said, it's a kindly word.
Now you may say, that's not called living, we prefer to talk all the time, even though it means that we are harming each other all the time, and making each other unhappy. You know, the bickering couples actually, fundamentally, they love each other. But in practice they hate each other, because they are constantly full of venom, mutual hate. Of course if it would come to a crisis, let's say he saw his wife fall into the ocean, he would dive in to save her. She'd do everything to save her husband, because fundamentally they still love each other, they're still loyal to each other. Isn't it a tragedy, that people that are so devoted to each other fundamentally should spend their lives hurting each other constantly? And that's what bickering means, it means their lives are a failure!
And how important it would be, to study the ways of the eishes chayil, and to make it a principle in life, to learn אמנם אלם, a man's profession in life, and a woman's profession, is to learn to be silent. Only צדק תדברון, and speak only when there is righteousness or kindliness or wisdom.
Good Shabbos To All
This is transcribed from questions that were posed to Harav Miller by the audience at the Thursday night lectures.
To listen to the audio of this Q & A please dial: 201-676-3210