Rabbi Sessler – D’var Torah

Admitting Our Mistakes

Moshe Dayan was a celebrated Israeli general and statesman. Before the Yom Kippur War, Dayan was a staunch political hawk. After the war, Dayan reassessed his geo-political sensibilities, and became a pragmatic dove. When asked about his political metamorphosis by the press, Dayan famously retorted: ” Only a donkey doesn’t change his mind…”.

The ability to change our mind, admit that we were in the wrong, and having the courage to reassess a given situation – all these attest to open mindedness and confidence, as well as strength of character, and mental and emotional health.

Socrates, the great Greek thinker, explained in this context that the vulgar man argues in order to win the debate, whereas the wise man engages in a debate in order to discover the truth and the best course of action to be pursued. In other words, the wise are guided by the desire to do that which is right and worthy, whereas the vulgar are driven by ego alone, and seek nothing but self-validation.

In our parashah, we find Moses thinking that Aaron and his sons made a mistake during the course of bringing forth offerings in the tabernacle (Leviticus 10:16-17). In the ensuing verses, Aaron explains to Moses why he and his sons went about bringing certain sacrifices, and not others. Moses respectfully listens to Aaron’s reasoning, with open mindedness and good will, and becomes convinced by the salience of Aaron’s arguments., Moses then goes on to concede with humility that indeed Aaron is in the right, and that he, Moses, misperceived the situation. Rashi adds in his commentary that Moses “hoda velo bosh lomar…(Moses acknowledged [his mistake], and was not ashamed or embarrassed to admit it)”.

The ability to concede an error in judgment is imperative for the success and well-being of every relationship, and every organization, including our families and our businesses. Conceding a mistake is a sign of maturity, strength of character and wisdom. So let’s do so, whenever we err, which is much more often than any of us would like to think….

Shabbat Shalom, warmly yours,
Rabbi Sessler

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