The educated American consumer has become reliant upon labels. When
shopping for food or the ingredients and nutrient labels alert the buyer to
any potentially dangerous part of the secret formula used to produce the
tasty or medicinal product. One who is scouring the shopping mall for
clothing looks for labels that will indicate brands that he or she has
found of the quality and fit that provide the most value or prestige. Wash
care labels advise the proper care needed for satisfactory long-term wear
of the many fabrications used to produce garments. From electronic devices
to cigarettes and alcoholic beverages warning labels caution consumers of
harm these products may cause. Labels are mini-directories of information
that help us maximize our safe use of consumer products.
However, misuse of labels can cause great damage. When we negatively label
people we harm their potential for positive action. If a parent or teacher
tells a child "You are bad" the child is shackled in his or her future
behavior to a pattern that is in fact "bad." The label reminds the child of
what they did. It is as if the parent or teacher is constantly saying:
"This is what you were, this is what you are and this is what you always
will be". The same is true whether the victim of harsh labeling is a child,
an employee or friend.
The one thing left out of the formula is the fact that there is always
potential for change. We cannot assume future behavior based on past
actions with any degree of certainty. Everyone deserves to start the day
with a clean slate so when you are unhappy with another's behavior -
criticize the activity in a constructive manner --BUT don't label the
person for with indelible ink.
DID YOU KNOW THAT
The laws of ribbit - interest on loans -- applies to neighbors who borrow
products (like milk or eggs) from one another. The borrower may return only
the amount actually borrowed. Anything added to the payback would
[Source: Shulhan Arukh, Yoreh Deah, 160:17]
CONSIDER THIS FOR A MINUTE
The older one is -- i.e. the less years one has left to live -- the less
one should be invloved in the pursuits of this temporal world and the more
constant should be thoughts about fear of G-d, correction of traits and the
chase after Torah and misvot.
Rabenu Yonah, Shaare Teshubah
Text Copyright © 2003 Rabbi Raymond Beyda and Project Genesis, Inc.