A businessman is riding the train when an individual dressed in what seemed like traditional Chassidic garb sits down next to him.
Observing his seatmate, the businessman blurts out: “Sir, honestly, we live in a modern world – why do you insist on dressing in such an old-fashioned way? Times have changed…why are you so archaic?”
“With all due respect – I’m Amish,” responds the man.
“Really?” exclaims the businessman. “My humble apologies – I must say, I find the Amish very inspiring. I’m truly impressed with how they have preserved their tradition for so long…”
Ironically, although we pride ourselves on being progressive individuals, sometimes our “open-mindedness” is hardly open at all. Our life experiences and relationships often reveal that we are only as impartial as we choose to be.
We live in a divided society. Everyone sticks with like minded friends and we don’t mingle with people who think differently. We kind of shut our minds from truly thinking and going out of the box. We become “set in stone” to a certain degree.
The beauty of life lies in our ability to connect with other kinds of people. To interact with people whom we would otherwise never think of interacting with. This is what allows us to have a grounded and unbiased view of life.
As the Talmud says, “Who is wise? He who learns from everyone.”
The great Chasidic master, Rabbi Zusha of Anipoli, took this Talmudic saying to the next level: He learned seven positive traits from a thief! For example: if you fail the first time – try again!
Indeed, everyone has something that we can learn from.
Let’s truly open our hearts and minds to the world around us – to the people we meet and the experiences we encounter – for after all, the determining sign of life is growth.
Being open to new ideas and voices ensures that we do not remain stagnant or stale within our own narrow echo chamber, but continue to mature and blossom in our growth as a person.