I've just finished writing an article, and I need to get two people to review it before it can be submitted for publication. (On many occasions, the Rebbe strongly encouraged writers to submit their writings for review by two experts before publication—a standard adopted by this site.)

Sitting in the cubicle next to me is a fellow editor; he's bright, but not overly opinionated, not of the genre that simply must comment on anything placed before them. (I could learn a thing or two from him...) A perfect reviewer candidate. I print out the article and hand it to him with a smile and a compliment. (To date, I think that combination has allowed three mediocre articles to make the grade.)

On cue, he pulls out his red pen.

"Menachem," I say, "put away the pen... First read the whole article. I want to get your opinion on the ideas expressed. Do they make sense? Are they clearly communicated? Are they consistent with the Torah's view? You can't focus on the big picture if you're obsessing over the details. After you've read the article once, then go over it again for typos, punctuation, grammar, etc."

Concentrating on the details causes one to lose sight of the larger picture, and, perhaps more importantly, it is impossible to properly assess the details without the benefit of the overarching scheme. That word that seems to be superfluous when viewing the sentence on its own, might actually be vital to the overall message. That concept that seemingly requires elaboration—perhaps its vagueness is key to the build-up of the article.

But it seems that the affinity for the red pen is many an editor's Achilles heel. No matter how many times this routine repeats itself, Menachem still knee-jerkily reaches for the pen. And on many an occasion, when in a similar situation, I've found myself doing the same...

Say I've decided to join a new Torah class. But instead of emptying my mind and opening it to absorb the new ideas being introduced by the lecturer, my head is a tornado of activity. Inwardly, I'm analyzing every word and questioning every premise.

What will I be left with? a) A very fuzzy understanding of the subject as a whole. b) My conception of those very details that I hyper-analyzed is also skewed because a proper understanding of the components require an overall understanding. It's akin to taking an in-depth class on carburetors before understanding the general dynamics of the internal combustion engine.

Only once the lecturer has concluded, is it appropriate to scrutinize and question. Now, instead of obscuring the idea, the questions will further reveal and enlighten.

The same holds true in our interaction with others—acquaintances, business associates (including fellow editors...), family, and especially spouses.

How many times have I entered into a conversation with my wife while wielding a huge threatening red marker? The moment she starts explaining her feelings, I'm wildly making big Xes: deleting, debating, adding, editing, attacking every detail.

Is there a chance that I'll hear what she's trying to say—even if by some miracle she doesn't give up halfway through her train of thought?

I will now print out this article and give to Menachem to review. Chances are that he'll be so thrilled about changing a semi-colon into a dash, that he won't even notice that the article is about him.