Minute #487: Windows and Mirrors

Glass is a remarkable material. It starts out as simple sand, yet in the hands of an artisan it may be made transparent or translucent. It may be shiny or dull. Some add color and texture. It can be heated and formed into any shape you like. Isn’t glass an amazing material?

Two of the most common uses of glass are the production of windows and mirrors. Although some windows have dark glass or sand-blasted or colored panes which do not allow one to see through them, most are crystal clear. These panes allow light in, and anyone behind the glass can see out. Mirrors, on the other hand, have a silver metal reflective core. They are used for the practical purpose of seeing oneself or making a small space seem larger. Some use mirrors for purely decorative purposes, to achieve special lighting effects with the mirror’s reflective properties.

We are taught that everything in Hashem’s world not only benefits mankind, but also may serve as a lesson for our own behavior.

When one wants to place blame for failure, one immediately looks outside oneself for environmental or social reasons for personal failings. One gazes out a window — when looking in the mirror would be a better course of action.

A person was created with self-preservation instincts that sometimes translate into selfishness. “Me first” may become “Me first-second-third.” It’s important to see the needs of others, as David Hamelech said: “Praiseworthy is the one who considers the poverty-stricken” (Tehillim 41:2). Looking through the window at the needs of others is a more productive way to spend our bounty after we’ve satisfied our basic needs and made ourselves comfortable.

Glass is awesome. One just has to know when to look through it at the needs of others or reflect upon the image it throws back at us, revealing how we truly are and where we can improve.

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

People have subjective tastes. Some mistakenly view them as absolute realities. In issues of taste, instead of saying, “You have awful taste,” you can say, “I prefer something different.” (Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Marriage, p. 287)