Chukat-Balak (Numbers 19:1-25:9 )
In this week's Torah portion, Moses' brother Aaron dies. The Torah tells us that the Jewish people mourned more for Aaron than they did for Moses. That's quite an amazing statement. The Sages explain that Aaron was a man who devoted himself to making peace between individuals and, as such, was respected and loved by all.
Here is Aaron's modus operandi: Whenever two people got into an argument, Aaron would visit each of them separately. He would tell the first person (untruthfully) that he had just visited the other, "who is full of remorse and wished to apologize." He would then visit the other person and tell him (again untruthfully) the same thing.
Judaism is not prudish or puritanical. It is a very practical approach to life, and recognizes that there are times when it's right to lie - in this case, in order to bring peace between God's children.
What Aaron did was based on simple human nature. When we perceive someone is attacking us, we will fight our corner and find only wrong in him. When, however, that same person comes humbly to apologize and accepts responsibility, we will more often than not, be willing to accept the role that we have played also. When we don't feel judged, we are more able to own up to our shortcomings.
It's something that we would do well to remember in all of our relationships - specifically, perhaps, in marriage. If we make our spouse feel attacked and judged, their most likely response (assuming they are human) will be to defend themselves and find fault in us instead. This will happen more than nine times out of ten.
If, on the other hand, our spouse feels accepted and respected, and there is an issue that we want to deal with, they are much more likely to be honest and objective about the role they may have played in creating the problem.
Any time we make another person feel judged and put down, we can blame only ourselves if the results are less than satisfactory. It's much better to try the positive approach instead.