Dvar Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
When Yitzhak found out that he gave the blessings to Ya’akov and not to Esau as he thought he had, the Torah tells us: “Yitzhak trembled greatly” (Genesis 27:33).
Why did Yitzhak tremble so much?
Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz, the late Rosh HaYeshiva of Mir, cited the Sages who stated that Yitzhak experienced greater fear and anxiety at this moment than he did at the akaidah, when he was brought up as a sacrifice by his father, Avraham. There he was bound and ready to be killed with a sharp blade. From here we see, said Rav Chaim, that the realization that one made a mistake is the greatest of pains. This was not a onetime mistake. Rather, Yitzhak realized that all the years he thought Esau was more deserving than Ya’akov he was in error. The anxiety experienced in the awareness of error is a powerfully painful emotion.
This is important to keep in mind when you are trying to point out to someone his faults and mistakes. You might think, “It is so obvious that this person is wrong. As soon as I tell it to him, he should admit it.” We see this often times when parents reprimand their kids. Perhaps you have witnessed this scene (either as a parent and/or a child): A parent walks into a teenager’s room, blow his top about the messiness of the room, the irresponsibility of the child, the impossibility of finding anything, the health hazards and the lack of consideration for others — and expects his child to say, “Gee, Dad, I never thought of that before; thank you for pointing it out. I am definitely going to change!” When that doesn’t happen, the parent often figures that maybe next time if he yells just a little bit louder, the message will get through. (Insanity is defined as doing the same thing and expecting different results.)
However, the reality is that admitting a mistake can be extremely painful. For this reason, there is a strong tendency for people to deny their mistakes. If you sincerely want to help someone improve, it is crucial to be as tactful as possible. Start out by saying, “It seems to me…” or “I might be mistaken, but perhaps…” The more sensitive you are to the feelings of the person you are trying to help, the more effective you will be.