web analytics
October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

I’m Never Wrong


The-Shmuz

Moshe said: “So said Hashem, ‘At about midnight, I shall go out in the midst of Egypt.’ ” – Shemos 11:4

After months and months of Hashem showing the Mitzrim that He alone controls every aspect of Creation, Moshe was instructed to warn Pharaoh that if he still wouldn’t let the Jewish people go, then exactly at the stroke of midnight every firstborn in Mitzrayim would die. Yet when Moshe appeared in front of Pharaoh, he changed the message and said, “If Pharaoh doesn’t free the Jews, then approximately at midnight every firstborn will die.”

Rashi is troubled by why Moshe would change Hashem’s wording. He explains that Moshe was afraid that if he gave an exact time, the Mitzrim would be watching the clock and might miscalculate. Rather than assuming they were wrong, they would attribute the error to Moshe and think he was a liar. To remove this potential pitfall, Moshe changed what Hashem said and told Pharaoh that at around midnight the firstborn would begin dying.

This Rashi seems quite difficult to understand. In our times we have precise instruments to measure time – clocks, watches, chronographs. In the ancient world, timepieces were crude. During the day, a sundial might provide some degree of accuracy, give or take a few minutes. But the makkah of b’choros was at night. The way the Mitzrim would tell time at night was by gazing at the stars. They would look up at the stars’ alignments and approximate the time. How accurate could this possibly be? The telescope had yet to be invented; sophisticated mathematics was yet to be discovered. So how could they assume they were right and Moshe was wrong?

What makes this even more difficult to understand is that for close to a year Moshe and Aaron appeared in Pharaoh’s palace, miraculously foretelling what would happen if Pharaoh didn’t allow the Jews out of Mitzrayim. Time after time, events occurred exactly as Moshe predicted. So why would the Mitzrim assume they were correct and Moshe was lying?

The answer to this question is based on human nature. We tend to assume our opinions are correct, regardless of the evidence against us and irrespective of whom we might be arguing with. While we may not have given much thought to how we arrived at our understanding, once something becomes accepted as our opinion, it becomes very difficult to change.

Moshe was afraid the Mitzrim would calculate the time and, despite the questionable accuracy of their calculations, jump to the conclusion that Moshe was wrong. To prevent this, Moshe gave an approximate time.

But even if the Mitzrim thought Moshe was off by a few minutes, what would that prove? Everything he had said until then had come true. And every firstborn would have died exactly as he had warned. So why would Moshe change the words Hashem said to him?

Here again we see another human tendency. Moshe was afraid he’d be discredited. Once the Mitzrim thought they’d caught him in a lie, nothing he said would have any credibility. Rather than carefully going back to see that the basis of their opinion was highly speculative, the Mitzrim would assume Moshe was wrong despite the overwhelming evidence against it.

This concept has great relevance to us both on the receiving as well as on the giving end. To be effective, truthful people we must recognize our tendency to be biased. When we find ourselves in a disagreement with others, it is difficult to hear their position, regardless of the logic or evidence in their favor. Whether it’s politics, sports, the economy, or what color tie best matches our suit, we tend to be heedless in the formation of our opinions. Yet when challenged, we become locked in and almost incapable of hearing the other perspective.

On the other side of the coin, this idea has great impact when it is our goal to convince others. Whether it is a co-worker we wish to influence on a religious matter or a child on the importance of acting responsibly, the more clearly we understand human nature the more effective we can be.

The operating principle is that arguing will bring the opposite reaction I am seeking. The more directly I confront a belief you hold, the more you will resist giving it up.

The reason for this is that when I directly challenge something you think to be true, it is no longer the belief that is under assault, it is you – and your instinct for self-preservation will come to your defense. At this point, even an idea you may not have fully believed becomes rooted and grounded in your very being, and you become almost incapable of giving it up. Doing so would be admitting defeat, something we find so distasteful.

The only method to effectively influence others is to recognize the inner makeup of the human, and to then gingerly bring people around to the correct understanding, allowing their sense of self to remain untouched.

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 “I’m Never Wrong”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Peace partners for hate: Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (R) and chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.
PA Chief Negotiator Compares Netanyahu with ISIS
Latest Judaism Stories

On Sunday, Jews will be refraining from food and drink from dawn until sunset to commemorate the Fast of Gedaliah. Following Nebuchadnetzar’s destruction of the First Temple and exile of most of the Jews, the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah ben Achikaam as governor of Judea. Under Gedaliah’s leadership, Judea and the survivors began to recover. On […]

On the beach

As we enter the Days of Awe, we must recognize that it is a joy to honor and serve true royalty.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

On Rosh Hashanah we are taught that true self-analysis involves the breaking down of walls

PTI-092614-Shofar

When we hear the words “Rosh Hashana is coming” it really means Hashem Himself is coming!

Who am I? What are the most important things in my life? What do I want to be remembered for? If, as a purely hypothetical exercise, I were to imagine reading my own obituary, what would I want it to say? These are the questions Rosh Hashanah urges us to ask ourselves. As we pray […]

We recently marked the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 – that terrible day when the symbols of man’s power and achievement crumbled before our eyes and disappeared in fire and smoke. For a very brief moment we lost our smugness. Our confidence was shaken. Many of us actually searched our ways. Some of us even learned […]

Why am I getting so agitated? And look how we’re treating each other!

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

We must eat, sleep, work, and care for our dependants. How much time is left over after all that?

Once we recognize that our separation from God is our fault, how do we repair it?

Chatzitzah And Its Applications
‘Greater Stringency Applies To Hallowed Things…’
(Chagiga 20b-21a)

To choose life, you must examine your actions in the period preceding the Days of Awe as an unbiased stranger, and render your decision.

Rabbi Dayan took a challah and some cooked eggs. He then called over his 15-year-old son, Aharon. “Could you please ask your friend Chaim from next door to come over and help me with the eruv tavshilin?”

This world has its purpose; it has been ideally fashioned to allow man to grow.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

This world has its purpose; it has been ideally fashioned to allow man to grow.

The-Shmuz

Our understanding of what is and what is not possible creates imagined ceilings of opportunity for us.

How can the Torah expect me today, thousands of years after the mitzvahs were given, to view each mitzvah as if I’m fulfilling it for the first time?

A replica reminds a person of the original. Granted it is in miniature, and granted no one would mistake it for the original, but it carries, almost in caricature form, some semblance of the original.

When a person feels he can control the destiny of other people, he runs the risk of feeling self-important, significant, and mighty.

If a man sins and follows his inclinations, he will find comfort in this world – but when he dies, he will go to a place that is all thorns.

While it’s clear to you and to me that a 14,000-pound creature can easily break away from the light ropes holding it, the reality is that it cannot.

One of the manifestations of the immature person is a sense of entitlement.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/im-never-wrong-2/2013/03/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: