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Wise people make mistakes


In the beginning, when the world was created, a court case raged in the cosmic judicial halls. The plaintiff, Mistake. The defendant, Wisdom.

“I am purposeless in this universe,” claimed Mistake. “By giving the human being Wisdom, you’ve simply taken me out of business! Is this just? Is this fair?”

“You are right,” answered God, “have no fear; I will create something that is sure to keep you in business.”

So God created Haughtiness. Ever since, no words of complaint have been heard from Mistake.


The Talmud states, “Who is wise? He who learns from everyone!”

Indeed, it is ok to not know. True wisdom is the ability to let go of one’s pride in order to learn something new.

I remember as a child encountering a commentary of Rashi (foremost commentator on the Torah and Talmud) in which he writes, simply, “I don’t know”. “If he didn’t know, why say anything at all!?”, I wondered.

“On the contrary”, explained my teacher, “this commentary is Rashi’s greatest message: no matter how much you’ve studied, always remember that you do not know it all.”

I believe that the greatest challenge of success is success itself. When we become overconfident, we begin to make mistakes.

When we were young and a little less sure of ourselves, we questioned life. We were inexperienced and we were thirsty to learn. But as we aged, we asked less; the “unknown” becoming “facts of life” and the “curious” becoming “unexplainable”. Today, we’re afraid to ask at all. What if the answers to life reveal that we’ve done it all wrong?

Granted, it takes courage to ask, but it is vital to our growth. We ought to rethink those questions we stopped asking, to renew our search for purpose, to ask as we did when we were truly open to discovering what we don’t know.

And if, during the journey, we discover that we’ve made mistakes – that’s ok.

Embrace them, learn from them, and allow life to take on new meaning.

Takeaway: Don’t let a comfortable answer get in the way of an uncomfortable question.


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Mendy