When You See A Stranger's Face - Poem by gershon hepner
When you see a stranger's face,
don't avert your gaze.
While you must respect his space,
allow it to amaze
no less than pages from which you
your gaze will not avert
until you learned the points of view
their authors may assert,
or from the TV screens when pro-
grams bring you a great thrill,
so that upon the TV show
you'll fix your eyes until
it's over-unless you possess
devices to record it!
A stranger's face deserves no less,
and if you have ignored it
you may not have another chance
to learn what you have missed.
As with good books you will enhance
your life with every tryst
with faces that you understand,
as analyst of which
both you and your analysand
will often both enrich
each others' lives more than all books,
as well as TV screens.
From faces don't avert your looks:
find out what each face means.
Rabbi David Wolpe in his Off The Pulpit for Shabbat naso,5712, writes:
Some Good Advice
Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein was a tortured soul with brilliant mind. Although an unquestionably difficult person, he inspired love and loyalty among his disciples. And he could speak spiritual truths. Here are words of advice he offers to Maurice O'Connor Drury, a student who became a psychiatrist:
'Look at your patients more closely as human beings in trouble and enjoy more the opportunity you have to say 'good night' to so many people. This alone is a gift from heaven which many people would envy you. And this sort of thing ought to heal your frayed soul, I believe. It won't rest it; but when you are healthily tired you can just take a rest. I think in some sense you don't look at people's faces closely enough.'
We can look as long as we wish at a book or a tree or our dinner. We can stare for hours at a television. But look at another human face, and there is an impulse to look away. We are overwhelmed by intimacy, and the extravagance of the gift. Here the philosopher echoes the Torah's wisdom of God's image: to speak to another is a privilege, to look in their eyes a responsibility, a consolation and an inspiration to life.
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