web analytics
July 28, 2015 / 12 Av, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

I’m Never Wrong


The-Shmuz

And Moshe said, “So said Hashem, at approximately midnight, I will go out into Mitzraim. – Shemos 11:4

 

After a “natural” disaster, people speak with reverence. Even arrogant individuals, after living through a hurricane, tidal wave, or earthquake, have a sense of humility. Their reality has been changed, and they view life differently. Yet, when Pharaoh and Mitzraim experienced the makkos, that wasn’t their reaction.

The Egyptians lived through the most powerful manifestation of Hashem’s might. For months, they were afflicted while Hashem “played with” Mitzraim. Two points were made clear: Hashem is the Master of Creation, and Moshe was the messenger of Hashem. Everything Moshe said would happen, happened – with precision and exactness.

Now, Hashem told Moshe that the final, most potent, makkah would come. “Tell Pharaoh that exactly at midnight, every first born in Mitzraim will die.” Yet when Moshe approached Pharaoh, he changed the message; he said at “approximately” midnight the firstborn will die.

Rashi is bothered by this. Why did Moshe change the words Hashem used? He answers that Moshe was afraid Pharaoh’s astrologers would make a mistake. They would be watching the clock to see if Moshe’s prediction was accurate. Even though the firstborn would in fact die exactly at the stroke of midnight, the astrologers might have the wrong time and mistakenly assume it wasn’t midnight. They would then accuse Moshe of being a liar. To prevent this from happening, Moshe said “approximately at midnight.”

Telling Time in the Ancient World

This Rashi is very difficult to understand when we take into account the historical reality.

Today, we live with an acute awareness of time. We have clocks all around us, in every room and in every car, on pens, microwaves, computers and cell phones. We can’t buy groceries or go to the bank without a date and time stamp adorning our receipts. We are constantly reminded of our point in time. And our chronometers are precise, down to the nanosecond. In short, we have good reason to assume our sense of timekeeping is accurate.

This wasn’t the way the ancient world kept time. During the day they used a sundial, which might have been somewhat close to almost accurate – sort of. At night, the only way to tell time was by gazing at the stars. Without computer-aided optics, measuring objects light years away is highly inaccurate at best.

Even if the Egyptians prided themselves on ingenuity and advancements, they had to know they were most likely wrong when it came to accurately knowing when midnight was. If so, why would they assume they were right and Moshe was wrong? If everything he had said up until then had been true, and they didn’t have a reliable way to know what time it was, why should they assume they were right and he was wrong?

Humans Don’t Like to Be Wrong

The answer to this question is based on a quirk in human nature: we assume we are right – whether our opinion is justified or not – and we don’t want to hear otherwise. The ironic part of this is that we assume we are right whether we have really thought out our position or not. We assume we are right whether we really have evidence to the facts or it just happens to be the first thing that came to mind. We assume our position, whatever it might be, is correct. It’s just a given. And it is very difficult to get us to change our minds. We are heedless in the formation of our opinions, but once they are formed, we defend them as if our very lives depended on it.

The Mitzrim are a fantastic illustration of this concept. Moshe was afraid that if there were a discrepancy between his time and theirs, they would assume they were right and he was wrong. Even though he had proven himself again and again, even though all the other details about the firstborn dying were completely correct, there wouldn’t have even been a question in their minds. If they determined it was precisely 11:45, fifteen minutes before the prescribed time, and the firstborn started dying, clearly in their eyes Moshe would be a liar. Because of this, Moshe used the expression approximately so that they shouldn’t come to this mistake.

This concept has great relevance to us on a personal level. What happens when someone points out I did something incorrect? Am I able to deal with the concept that maybe I am wrong? Am I able to swallow the thought that I made a mistake? Part of becoming a bigger person is the ability to be teachable, to be big enough to understand that not everything I thought of is right. And not everything someone else says is automatically wrong just because it isn’t my way. If a person wants to grow, some of the most critical words he needs to tell himself are: Maybe I’m wrong. I have been wrong before. Let me look at it again

When a person opens himself up to the idea he may have erred, he becomes far more pleasant, far more agreeable, and is on the path to true growth.

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of TheShmuz.com. The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at 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.

Current Top Story
Muslim man speaking with a group of women at the Dome of the Rock mosque on the Temple Mount.
‘Israel Police Should Give Jews a Free Hand on Temple Mount, Like They Do Arabs’
Latest Judaism Stories
Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

Before going in, I had told R’ Nachum all of the things we were doing in Philly, and how it was very important to receive a good bracha on behalf of our newest venture, a Russian Kollel.

Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: When a stranger approaches a congregant in shul asking for tzedakah, should the congregant verify that the person’s need is genuine? Furthermore, what constitutes tzedakah? Is a donation to a synagogue, yeshiva, or hospital considered tzedakah?

Zvi Kirschner
(Via E-Mail)

Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem

(JNi.media) Tisha B’Av (Heb: 9th of the month of Av) is a fast day according to rabbinic law and tradition, commemorating the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE by the army of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and the destruction of the Second Temple in the year 70 CE by the Roman army led […]

Rabbi Avi Weiss

Devarim often parallels the stories in Bereishit but in reverse & can be considered as a corrective

‘Older’ By A Month
‘…Until The Beginning Of Adar’
(Nedarim 63a)

We realize how much we miss something only after it’s gone.

Because the words of Torah gladden the heart, studying Torah is forbidden when Tisha B’Av is on a weekday, except for passages in Scripture that deal with the destruction of the Temple and other calamities.

On Super Bowl Sunday itself, life seems to stop. Over one hundred million people watch the game. About half of the households in the country show it in their living rooms and dens.

Moses begins Sefer Devarim reviewing much of the 40 years in the desert & why he can’t enter Israel

While they are definitely special occurrences, why are they cause for a new holiday?

Torah wasn’t given to be kept in Sinai; Brooklyn or Beverly Hills-It was meant to be kept in Israel!

“When a king dies his power ends; when a prophet dies his influence begins” & their words echo today

In addition to the restrictions of Tisha B’Av, there are several restrictions that one may not perform during the week that Tisha B’Av falls in.

The word “shavat” in the first kina of Tisha B’Av morning indicates a sudden suspension and cessation of time that accompanied the Temple’s destruction.

The two decided to approach Rabbi Dayan. “What is the halachic status of conquered territory?” asked Shalom.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
Shmuz-logo-NEW

On Super Bowl Sunday itself, life seems to stop. Over one hundred million people watch the game. About half of the households in the country show it in their living rooms and dens.

Shmuz-logo-NEW

We are affected by our environment. Our perspective on the world is affected by what those around us do.

It is the right amount of the right middah in the right time that is the key to perfection. Each middah has its place, time, and correct measure.

“You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall reprove your fellow and do not bear a sin because of him.” – Vayikra 19:17   When the Torah mentions the obligation to rebuke a fellow Jew, it ends with the words “and do not carry a sin because of him.” The Targum translates […]

The answer to this question is based on one of the greatest shortcomings of man – self-limiting beliefs.

When Chazal call not eating treif food a chok, that refers to how it functions.

And the farmer can’t help but feel a sense of pride. After all, it was his wisdom that led him to choose corn, not like that fool of a guy next door who planted wheat.

So what type of praise is it that Aaron followed orders?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/im-never-wrong/2012/01/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: