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Thought for the Day: Becoming more careful and more caring

מִשְׁלֵי כח:יד  אַשְׁרֵי אָדָם, מְפַחֵד תָּמִיד; וּמַקְשֶׁה לִבּוֹ, יִפּוֹל בְּרָעָה

Fortunate is the man who is constantly in fear, he who hardens his heart will fall to evil. (Proverbs 28:14)

By arranging the verse like this, Shlomo haMelech declares that unless a person is afraid constantly, he makes himself cruel.  Why should cruelty be the inevitable result of not being in fear?  The fear to which Shlomo haMelech refers is the fear of someone doing an important and delicate task.  A neurosurgeon, for example, while operating on a sensitive structure of the brain will be in constant fear as he works.  That is perfectly appropriate and quite obviously only a very cruel person would embark on such a procedure lightly.

Shlomo haMelech wants us to live our lives like that.  "Ele toldos Noach, Noach" -- These are the generations of Noach: Noach himself!  Every action, thought, and desire affects who we are and what we are becoming.  One must be constantly on vigil to guide himself toward his future.  But always?  It is said about R' Yisrael Salanter that he was afraid to render halachic decisions.  Of course he did render decisions, but each decision was given due consideration.  And that is the other side of Shlomo haMelech's instruction: even if (better, when) we make incorrect decisions, if it is done with the proper attitude we are saved from falling into evil.

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