This week we begin reading the book of Deuteronomy. It consists entirely of Moshe Rabbeinu's farewell address to the nation of Israel. Moshe Rabbeinu begins with a rebuke of the spies' negative report regarding the Land of Israel and the people's subsequent regrets about leaving Egypt. However, we can learn from this and later rebukes about the elements that constitute appropriate criticism:

1. Delay. Moshe Rabbeinu delays his critique until the end of the nation's journey through the desert and only now, just before his passing and the people's entering the Land of Israel, does he refer in retrospect to the nation's errors. With a perspective gained through the passage of time, things look differently. It's never okay to react out of anger in the here and now. Before we offer any reproach, it is advisable to take a deep breath.

2. Respect. Moshe Rabbeinu mentions the places in which sins occurred without going into detail. It's not necessary to flood people's consciousness with their past mistakes. As Rashi comments: "He did not recall their sins explicitly, but only alluded to them (by the names of the places where they occurred), out of respect for Israel."

3. Love. There is a type of criticism whose purpose is to insult and to denigrate, but constructive criticism is achieved through true concern. Moshe Rabbeinu has already proved how much he loves the nation. He stood by them during difficult trials, and was a faithful and devoted shepherd all along the way. It's not easy to accept criticism, but when it comes from Moshe Rabbeinu, the people know that it's truly for their benefit.

4. Faith. Constructive criticism does not only come from love, but from the belief that those criticized are capable of change and improvement. Moshe Rabbeinu has enormous faith in the people's potential. He knows there is a magnificent mission that they are capable of fulfilling in the Land of Israel, from where a uniquely inspiring message will be delivered to the entire world.

May we learn to criticize in an appropriate way and be open to criticism about ourselves as well.