Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Making Mistakes in Avodas HaShem

My seven year old grandson has a quite advanced sense of humor.  One afternoon at carpool, his mother said good night to one of her students, Mayer.  My grandson, in mock shock said, "Mom!  You are so mean!"  She didn't know what he was talking about, so... with a huge smile on his face, he said, "You told him he should have a bad dream when you told him to have a good nightmare."  He got a lot of positive feedback on that joke.

Here's one where he got less than positive feedback.  He asked his mother for something, was told no, and replied, "Perhaps you'd like to think about it and give me a different answer."  If it had been a sitcom 30 years ago (last time I saw one), then the laugh track would have been guffawing at that parent being once again upstaged by the precocious child (or at least, made up to be child looking) star.  However, this was real life in an Orthodox Jewish home.  He got appropriate mussar and I suspect he will not repeat that mistake again.  I say "mistake", because he really didn't have intention to be rebellious.  He thought it would be taken as a funny way for him to say that he really wanted whatever he had been denied.  He was wrong, but it was an honest mistake; sort of "growing pains" of a budding sense of humor.  (By the way, I merited to have all of my grandchildren under one roof for a month this summer, so don't think this is the end of cute grandchild stories; I'm just getting started.)

Chazal (Brachos 29a) discuss what R' Yehoshua means when he says that before there were siddurim, that a person should say מעין שמונה עשרה/sort of sh'moneh esrei each day.  Everyone agrees that the first and last three brachos are always the same, the question is only on the 13 middle petitions.  Rav says he means that one may shorten up each of the intervening petitions.  Shmuel, though, says that R' Yehoshua means the prayer that we call הבנינו, a one sentence summary that encapsulates and expresses the essence of all our petitions.  Obviously that words are chosen with extreme care.  One phrase is "judge those who make a mistake about Your opinion".  Rashi (first explanation) says that means those who transgress Your words; ie, the sinners.

I thought it was an amazing way to look at sin.  Really, a Jew wants his actions to express what HaShem desires, but be err in our judgement.  We are immature in our thought, so we make mistakes.  R' Aaron Lopiansky said he was asked how we can know if we are making the right decisions.  He answered, "Did you think about it?  Do you make a considered choice, weighing all the factors?  Then you made the right decision, whether or not you did the right thing."

Our job as human beings and Jews is not to never make mistakes; that's for beings without free will -- angels and animals.  Our job is to use our G-d Given intellect to make reasoned choices instead of being lead around by our desires.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…