This week's Torah portion speaks about various physical blemishes and conditions which can afflict a person.

The Talmud, in the tractate Negaim which deals with these types of blemishes and conditions, notes that "a person sees all kinds of blemishes except for their own."

The story is told of a prominent doctor who was known for his generosity but was also prone to blowing his own trumpet.

One day he was traveling when he saw the local rabbi walking. He stopped to offer the rabbi a ride. As they traveled together, the doctor, as was his wont, began to speak about his achievements. "You know, Rabbi, I get a lot of patients who can't afford to pay but I never turn them away. I treat them exactly the same as my wealthier patients."

"I also do that," replied the rabbi.

The doctor figured that perhaps the rabbi was referring to the spiritual counsel he gave his spiritual "patients." "Also," he continued, "a lot of times patients need expensive drugs. If they can't afford it, I provide them for free."

"I also do that," rejoined the rabbi.

Maybe he means that sometimes he gives people material help also, the doctor thought. "Sometimes people need days of post-operative care. I give it to them voluntarily, even though I have so little time."

"I also do that."

So it went, the doctor continuing to lavish praise on himself while the rabbi answered each time, "I also do that."

Eventually the doctor couldn't take it anymore and he asked the rabbi: "Rabbi, I don't understand. You're not a doctor, how can you do all these things?"

"No, all I meant was I also do that - I also only talk about my own good qualities!"

The Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement, taught us that another person is like a mirror—if we find ourselves noticing faults in others, it is because they exist within ourselves. This is not such a foreign concept—it is common in psychological terms to speak of one person "projecting" their own faults onto another. It is incumbent upon us to realize that when we see a fault in somebody else, it is only because we need to work on that very fault within ourselves. As the Talmud and the above story illustrate, we tend not to notice our own faults except in others!

The whole world is a mirror designed to show us how we can work on ourselves and our own deficiencies. Once we realize this, and we understand that the fault we see in another person is just the way in which Divine Providence shows us our own shortcomings, it becomes a lot easier to be tolerant and understanding of others.