There are no coincidences, of course. Things come to us precisely when we need them… and while you can randomly pick any Torah passage or teaching and have it be relevant and vital, it is an amazing thing when something comes to you at the precise moment you need it… or when you have been struggling with something in your mind and need clarity.
There will always be lessons that speak to us more than others, and ones that hit us exactly where we are at. Such is the way with Hashem. The lessons are always there, but they will truly come to us when we are open to receive them.As a side note to this, here is a silly but true analogy. This morning I was going to the gym and thought I saw a spot closer to the front. I was focused on it, and not open to any other spot. Of course as I pulled up to it, I realized there was a small car parked there. It was then that I realized that there was a spot just to the left and back only a few… a spot I had driven right by, because I was focused so much on the other. So I backed up… and pulled in and laughed, realizing that we have to be open to everything, aware of everything and not put our blinders on.
We miss so much in the world when we are shut off and not open to the possibilities… and yes, this even goes for a parking spot. The key is to open all of our senses… open our minds… and see all that is right in front of us.
And now back to our regularly scheduled program…
In Pirkei Avos 1:8 there is a lot to learn about the current world and what is happening around us… and of course how to deal with it.
“Yehuda ben Tabai and Shimon ben Shetach received from them. Yehuda ben Tabai says, “When serving as a judge, do not act as a lawyer. When the litigants stand before you, consider them both as guilty, but when they are dismissed from you, consider them both as innocent, provided they have accepted the judgement.”
It is confusing a bit, in that we are taught to judge all people favorably, yet here we are to look at both as guilty. I bristled at this part, but of course quickly realized this is not speaking of a trial with a known felon or crazy murder… And also, I am not a judge OR a lawyer in real life, so this has to do with other things for me.
We MUST HAVE a healthy skepticism. We must search for facts and truth, especially before we make an assumption… and even worse, go off on that assumption. One need only look at recent events in the news to see the dangers of this.
Yes, of course we want to believe what people say, but we cannot believe everything, and will always hear opposing points of view. So if we look at both as guilty, this will force us to look at ALL the evidence and hear EVERYTHING… BEFORE we make a decision and render a verdict.
In today’s world, too many people hear a snippet and go off… They read a headline only, and formulate an entire opinion, and then even worse, go on a tirade and rant. The fuses are way too short these days, and so people take on an issue or cause with a misguided passion, because they do not have all the facts. They have acted as a judge and lawyer at the same time, and as the sages tell us, there is great danger in this.And of course, this lesson is also the best way to make personal decisions for ourselves. We must not try to convince ourselves that something is right or wrong, without listening to the pros and cons… weighing it all out… measuring it. It is too easy to talk ourselves into things… into bad decisions… because we ignore the facts… don’t have a clear and objective way to judge. Of course, this is where a connection with Hashem comes in awfully handy and knowing what the RIGHT thing to do is essential.
There is a great article on Aish.com that brilliantly nails this notion, especially in its conclusion:
“If you go through the process honestly, you should feel a sense of satisfaction. Not only do you accept the “verdict,” but the “litigants” — those opposing choices — accepted it too. Even the side not chosen seems to cry out and say, “You have chosen well.”
“There’s no joy like the removal of doubts,” the Sages teach. When you’ve been scrupulously honest with yourself and the decision-making process, all doubts are removed and you experience the most profound joy. That’s the result of your absolute pursuit of righteousness, of making sure the process of coming to the decision was as straight as could be.”
So when you are trying to make a decision for yourself, don’t lawyer up! Stop. Think. And listen to everything with an objective and healthy skepticism. Judge yourself and your choices honestly. So go ahead, get all Judge Judy or Judge Wapner with yourself.