The eclipse of the Ego does not happen much more often than an Eclipse of the Sun, as they are equally matched in their grandiosity.

Our Gemara details a number of situations that underscore the importance of using wisdom when one performs a good deed. They quote a verse in Psalms (41:2) “Fortunate is one who considers the poor.” אַ֭שְׁרֵי מַשְׂכִּ֣יל אֶל־דָּ֑ל  Notably, NOT one who GIVES to the poor, but rather one one who CONSIDERS the poor. The meaning of this is that one must use empathy and emotional intelligence when providing charity. The Gemara went on to explain a number of tragic situations that came about from well-intentioned oversight and not realizing what the person really required.

This is one of the central challenges of being helpful to people. We want to help people on our terms. We want to tell them what we think and what they should do. Now, once in a while, there is a fortuitous alignment between what we think is good for the person, what the person thinks is good for him or her, and the willingness and ability to hear us. But I would say that happens about as often as a total Solar eclipse.  

What is more appropriate for us to do is ask the person what he or she thinks is needed and what he or she thinks will help. We don’t have to grant their wish, but we could grant them the respect of considering their wish, and not forcing upon them the help that we think they need or what would make us feel good by giving to them.

For Video versions of this click here, and look for title and daf.  

Translations Courtesy of Sefaria