Learning From Your Mistakes

by Debra Morris

In between pesach and shavuot are the 49 days of the omer- as everyone knows.........some say that these days are a ladder leading from re enacting being a slave who is freed, to becoming a Jew who receives the torah, and has free will.

The idea being that each day is a small step on a ladder to growth in a spiritual sense.

 

................. I thought that I would try to explore this idea ....and what it may mean for us today........

 

I am going to take 2 ideas that I have found

 

Firstly how many times have you heard yourself or another say......

 

I know I didn't get here on time but I just had to deal with one more call at work.......

 

Or someone says I didn't clear up because I was too busy.........

 

It’s easy to give an explanation why something hasn't happened how it was originally supposed to, it’s much harder to do the thing in the first place..

 

Following on from this I was reading a book recently and the writer said.....'my father gave me a gift by which I live by and which I teach to my children.

 

It's the gift of no excuses......

 

I think this is quite intriguing - because what does the writer mean when he says this?

 

In the view of the writer excuses and explanations are a failure to take full responsibility for our actions. It is suggesting that we are a little less blameworthy because of mitigating circumstances. It is probably true that these circumstances may lessen the severity of the consequences, but they do not lessen our accountability or responsibility.

 

The writer’s father told him to:

 

admit his mistakes

 

take responsibility,

 

learn from it .

 

Then move on......

 

If we do not first admit our mistakes then we have no chance of correcting them. As the saying goes make friends with your failures they will become some of your best friends.

 

If we at first admit our errors then we put ourselves in the position of being able to work on ourselves to be better. This is hard to do - no one likes to be wrong.....Indeed everyone who experiences setbacks could use them as a sign that they are making progress.

 

Moving on to another theme - the same writer spoke to his father about moving on to high school - he said that he felt that he was not ready - and was hesitant and scared to move to a bigger school. His father replied that the doing makes you ready.. He explained that you are never really ready for a new challenge. We are comfortable with our current status and situation - and we have become accustomed and used to our environment. It is only when we are challenged beyond our known zone - our comfort zone, that actually we become ready for something else......

 

To put this into context how many times have we heard ourselves or others telling a child to do their homework - and then the child would shout and argue. The argument would go along the lines of 'but I can't it’s too hard' and the reply would be something like 'yes you can', and the child would reach beyond what they thought they could do and finish the home work, the words used were not oppressive but empowering.

 

For us grownups with our sophisticated ways life is more complicated, we need to think and consider and even then we may not feel we can reach outside of our comfort zone....

 

So perhaps tonight we should consider the idea of keeping building, keep learning more and more, The torah exists on many different levels and offers meaning to individuals at various stages of spiritual development - it doesn't matter where you are on the ladder of life and spiritual development - its the same for everyone.

 

The catch phrase for shavuot is nase venishma - we will do and we will listen ie the children of Israel did before they understood. The same can be considered today - some sages say the idea of doing mitzvahs should take precedence over studying them.

 

So perhaps tonight what should be considered - which are not easy things to do:

 

1) With patience and diligence one can step outside of their comfort zone and take a step nearer the Hashem

 

2) We can all start to be human again, and start admitting our mistakes, and learning from them.....and hopefully this will enable us to help our community grow. As Judaism is a journey - a process where every step counts.

 

With thanks to Rabbi Yisroel Roll

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