web analytics
March 4, 2015 / 13 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Asking For Advice


The-Shmuz

“These are the chronicles of Yaakov: Yosef was seventeen years old, and he watched his brothers.” – Bereishis 37:2

At the age of seventeen, Yosef was wise in the ways of the Torah and in the ways of the world. He was called a “ben zikunim” because even at such a young age he showed the brilliance of an elder scholar. He had already absorbed all the Torah Yaakov had learned in the many years he had spent in the yeshiva of Shem.

For that reason Yaakov chose him to be the leader of the family. The Sforno explains that the coat Yaakov made for Yosef was to be a sign that he was in charge. The brothers were to listen to him in matters of the household. They were to follow his direction in of business. His was to be the final word. Clearly, Yosef was brilliant.

Yet the Sforno points out that despite his brilliance, Yosef did something quite foolish. Whenever he found his brothers doing something wrong, he would immediately report it to his father. Because he was young, he didn’t focus on what his brother’s reaction to him would be, and this caused them to resent him. This, explains Sforno, is why we don’t seek advice from those who are young.

This Sforno is difficult to understand. If Yosef was so brilliant, how is it possible he overlooked something as elementary as thinking about what his conduct would lead to? Didn’t he recognize his actions would cause his brothers to hate him?

The answer to this can be best understood with an observation about maturity.

Understanding the Child

In the past hundred years, psychologists have come to understand that children aren’t simply grown-ups with short bodies. A child’s way of thinking, his frame of mind, and his entire emotional operating system are unlike those of an adult’s.

One of the manifestations of an adult’s viewpoint is the ability to see consequences. What will this lead to? How will I feel about this five years from now? How about ten years from now? The more immature the person, the more he lives in the immediate present. To a kid, there is nothing more valuable than that shiny red fire truck with the working siren and whistle.

Ask a five year old, “Would you rather have a thousand dollars or the fire truck?” It’s not even a contest! Many a well-intending grandparent has met with disappointment at his grandchild’s reaction when the child found out that this year’s Chanukah present was an investment in a mutual fund. The child doesn’t care, because he isn’t thinking about the future. He lives completely, totally, now. Tomorrow is too late, next week will never come, and the summer might as well be a million years away.

As a person matures, he is able to see more into the future. He can see himself in other settings and in different roles. He begins to understand that the very same person who sits here now will one day be responsible for making ends meet. That sense of seeing the future as if it were here now and recognizing emotionally that it really is going to happen is a function of maturity.

Maturity isn’t dependent on intelligence or education. A child prodigy might have a very high IQ and be capable of performing brilliant mental feats yet still behave like a kid. Maturation is a process, which occurs over time. Like a fine wine that ferments, the human mind acquires a certain ripening with age – a widening of scope. With maturity often comes wisdom.

One of measures of wisdom is how far into the future a person can see – not in a clairvoyant, supernatural manner, but as a consequence of insight. If you do this, it will lead to that, which will lead to this, which will lead to that…

The Brisker Rav, Rav Yosef Ber Soloveitchik, was once lamenting the loss of his father, Rav Chaim “The world doesn’t know what it has lost. My father could see fifty years into the future, and me, I can barely see ten years forward.”

This seems to be the answer to the question on the Sforno. At seventeen Yosef was brilliant. But it was the brilliance of youth. The wisdom that comes with age wasn’t yet there. As a result, he did things that lacked foresight. He acted in a manner that was unwise because he wasn’t focused on “what this will lead to.” On an intellectual level he might have been gifted, but he lacked the vision to see the consequences of his ways.

The concept is illuminating.

A Team of Advisers

Throughout history every king has had his counselors, every emperor his advisers. To a young person this might seem curious. After all, these were men of the world. Men of knowledge. Why would they need other people? Couldn’t they make up their own minds?

The answer is that they certainly could, but they understood the issues they were dealing with would shape history and affect the lives of so many others. They didn’t need help to make a decision, they needed help to make the right decision. And so, they sought out those who were older and wiser for counsel, for advice.

This concept is applicable to us as we make decisions every day – decisions that affect ourselves, decisions that affect the people in our lives. And we have to ask ourselves: Am I any less important than those world leaders? Are the people I deal with any less significant than the people they were concerned about?

If I properly value my family, my community, and myself then it is incumbent upon me to do everything that I can to ensure that I make the right choices. But how? Do I have the wisdom of a sage? Do I have the understanding of a learned man? Assuming that I don’t, I need to have people to guide me, people to direct me.

Chazal tell us, “Make for yourself a rav (rabbi/mentor).” Far more than a handbook for Jewish law, a rav is a mentor in life, a leader who provides perspective and priorities, a guide for proper life goals, one who directs you to wise choices that lead to a meaningful life of growth.

 

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at the www.theShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Asking For Advice”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
PA/PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas addresses Central Committee convention in Ramallah.
Abbas Underscores PLO’s ’3 NO’s’ in Ramallah Rant
Latest Judaism Stories

When Hashem told Moshe of the option to destroy the people and make him and his descendants into a great nation, Hashem was telling Moshe that it is up to him.

Mordechai on the King's horse, being led by Haman

Just like Moses and Aaron, Mordechai decides to ruin the party…

Daf-Yomi-logo

An Auto Accident
‘All Agree That They Are Exempt’
(Kesubbos 35a)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Why would the exemption of women from donating the half shekel exempt them from davening Musaf?

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

The Holocaust was the latest attempt of Amalek to destroy the special bond that we enjoy with God.

One can drink up to the Talmud’s criterion to confuse Mordechai and Haman-but not beyond.

“The voice is the voice of Yaakov, but the hands are the hands of Esav” gives great insight to Purim

Purim is the battleground of extremes, Amalek and Yisrael, with Zoroastrian Persia in between.

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.

Does Hashem ever go away and not pay attention to us?

In other words, the Torah is an expression of the Way that we must follow in order to live a divine-like life and to bond in the highest way possible with God or Being Itself.

The Chasam Sofer answers that one of only prohibited from wearing a garment that contains shatnez if he does so while wearing the garment for pleasure purposes.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

The-Shmuz

The avodah (service) of the kohen gadol is vital and highly sensitive; the world’s very existence depends on it.

While it may appear that man is in charge, Hashem orchestrates every activity on the planet

Hashem placed this world at man’s disposal. In a real sense, man is the steward of Creation.

He is fully aware that who he will be for eternity is in his hands.

How can the Da’as Zekeinim say this was Hashem’s plan to allow them to become the Torah Nation? We know it was actually a punishment.

How is it possible that the clothing was more valuable to them than gold or silver?

It is exactly like that of an animal, with all of the passions and desires necessary to drive man though his daily existence.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/asking-for-advice/2012/12/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: