Rabbi Joseph Telushkin once received, in the mail, this anonymous prayer, which he finds softens the human tendency to judge harshly:
“Help us to remember that the ‘jerk’ who cut us off in traffic last night may be a single mother who worked nine hours that day and who is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few precious minutes with her children.
“Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who couldn’t make change correctly at the register today is a worried 19-year-old student who is preoccupied with whether he passed his final exams and with his fear of not getting a student loan for next semester.
“Remind us, Lord, that the scary-looking ‘bum’ begging for money in the same spot every day is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.
“Help us to realize that the old couple walking so slowly through the store aisles, blocking our shopping car, are savoring this moment, because they know that, based on the biopsy report she got back yesterday, this might be the last year they will go shopping together.”