In Tehillim 34, Dovid HaMelech enjoins us to “Sur mei’ra va’asei tov” (Turn away from bad and do good). When we turn on the light in a dark room the light immediately dispels the darkness. Similarly, when we hang a dark sheet in front of a light source, the light is dimmed. Why, then, does King David tell us to do both: turn away from bad but also “do good?” Isn’t the avoidance of bad a good thing?
Several months ago, I heard what to me was a life-changing idea on a podcast interview with Rabbi Dr. Ari Bergmann. Almost in passing, he expressed the idea that in order to do good business, one must add equity: simply undercutting or outselling the next guy is a good short-term strategy, but to really make it big, one has to be making the world a better place: more efficient, more cost-effective, less problematic, and so on.
To quote Hypocrates: “First, do no harm.” Avoid what pulls us down – personally and collectively.
But then pursue good. Asei tov.
And what’s a good place to look for that?
“Seek peace; chase it” (Tehillim 34).