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Do You Know Your Rating? I Was Shocked When I Discovered Mine

on Wednesday, August 15 2018. Posted by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg

Image result for uber ratingI took an Uber a few months ago and noticed something that disturbed me greatly.  It wasn’t anything I found in the car, but rather something I happened to notice on the app.  I was well aware that Uber drivers carry a rating based on the score their passengers give them.  But I never knew that Uber passengers are also rated.

It turns out on a scale of 1 – 5, my Uber drivers had left me with an average of 4.77.  I was mortified.  Why not a perfect 5 stars?  What did I ever do to offend a driver?  I was always punctual, courteous, and clean.

With the proliferation of technology, rating others has become easy and accordingly common.  There are websites to rate your doctor or lawyer and even your kallah teacher.  There are apps to review all of your experiences from eating in restaurants to staying in hotels.  Nevertheless, rating others, especially if it will affect their income and reputation, is not necessarily the correct thing to do.

A college student recently asked me about the halachic permissibility of contributing to the website http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/.  She had a negative experience with a professor and wanted to know if it violates the laws of lashon ha’rah, gossip, to give the professor a poor rating on the website and to warn others not to take her.

Rating others may be fraught with halachic questions and we need to weigh them carefully before indulging in the rating game. That choice is ours.  Being rated, however, whether on Uber or elsewhere, is usually out of our control.  Though we may not ask to be evaluated by others, perhaps we can embrace our ratings and use them to be motivated and inspired to improve.

When I saw my less-than-perfect Uber rating, I immediately consulted Uber’s website and, as if they were writing to me, it says:

Very few people have a perfect rating, so don’t despair if your average isn’t 5.0.  Things that seem small to you can matter to your driver – it’s easy to accidentally slam a door if you’re not thinking about it.  Knowing a little more about the things that affect a driver’s happiness can help you be a 5-star rider.

I felt a little better, but I also became determined to raise my rating.  Each subsequent Uber ride since noticing my rating, I have waited for the driver on the curb to ensure he or she doesn’t wait, I have consciously closed the door gently, and I have made a concerted effort not to talk loudly on the phone.

I don’t know if my rating will improve, but I do know that my behavior and sensitivity improved simply as a result of the acute realization that I was being evaluated and scored by others.

In May, a couple in Portland, Oregon had a nightmare experience when the Amazon Echo in their home recorded their private conversation and sent it to one of the people in their contact list that they were talking about. The company acknowledged the glitch and said it happened because of an unlikely string of events and they were looking into it.

We each have something infinitely more powerful than an Amazon Echo recording us, not only in our homes, but everywhere we go.  The Mishna in Avos (2:1) says:

הִסְתַּכֵּל בִּשְׁלשָׁה דְבָרִים וְאִי אַתָּה בָא לִידֵי עֲבֵרָה, דַּע מַה לְּמַעְלָה מִמְּךָ, עַיִן רוֹאָה וְאֹזֶן שׁוֹמַעַת, וְכָל מַעֲשֶׂיךָ בַסֵּפֶר נִכְתָּבִין

“Keep your eye on three things, and you will not come to sin: Know what is above you: An eye that sees, and an ear that hears, and all your deeds are written in a book.”

If you wouldn’t want what you are saying recorded, simply don’t say it, because it is being recorded and it is contributing to the rating of the kind of person you are.

Accessing your Divine rating is not as easy as finding your Uber rating, but just knowing that He is watching, listening and scoring all that we do should motivate us to want to constantly improve and strive for a 5 out of 5.

Although the theme of Rosh Hashana through Yom Kippur is judgment, which connotes harshness and strictness, in truth these days contain great mercy and Heavenly favor.  The Tur quotes the Midrash that it was on Rosh Chodesh Elul that Moshe ascended to receive the second set of luchos, tablets, after the first ones were broken following the debacle of the Golden Calf.  Moshe came back down on Yom Kippur with new luchos in hand, signifying Hashem’s forgiveness.  Therefore, these days from Rosh Chodesh Elul through Yom Kippur are a time of pardon and appeasement each year.

Hashem reaches out to us and invites us to confront what we have done throughout the year to lower our rating.  We take stock of the insensitivities, hurts, failures and shortcomings and we take responsibility for them and commit not to repeat them.

When He senses our sincerity, Hashem resets our rating and lets us start off the year with a perfect score, challenging us to maintain it.  That is a gift Uber doesn’t offer.  Let’s take advantage of it.

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