Do you see a person wise in their own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for them. — Proverbs 26:12
There once was a renowned rabbi who was teaching his students about how to behave properly through life. He asked his students, “What is the difference between adults and children?” Many answers given focused on the supposed maturity of adults and silliness of children. However, the rabbi’s answer didn’t praise adults at all. Instead, he taught that adults hold grudges while children don’t.
If you’ve been around children, you’ve probably witnessed this firsthand. A child can be in a fight with another child one minute and best friends with the very same child a few minutes later. A child can tell his mother that he hates her and then 10 minutes later decide that she is the best mother in the world. On the other hand, if an adult tells you that he or she is no longer speaking with you, chances are 15 years later, you are still not on speaking terms with that person. Adults can host a wedding for their child and not invite someone who was once their closest friend because of something that happened years ago.
The rabbi had another question for his students. He asked: “Why is it that adults, who are mature, keep grudges while children, who are less so, are able to let go?” The rabbi explained that children choose being happy over being right, while adults choose being right over being happy.
It feels terrible to end a once cherished relationship. It is miserable to go through life not speaking to a family member, an old friend, or a neighbor. But most people would rather be right than to pick up the phone and admit that they were wrong or be the first to make amends. We have a lot to learn from children!
This is what King Solomon meant when he wrote: “Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.” How could there be more hope for a fool than a wise person? When we are so attached to being wise in our own eyes – to being right all the time — there is more hope for a four-year-old who doesn’t know much, but also doesn’t need to be right. Sometimes our attachment to our wisdom can stop us from making intelligent decisions.
Today, let’s take some time to think about “being right.” When do we feel the need to be right? Does it ever get in the way of our relationships at home, at work, or with strangers? Today, practice being kind over being right. And if there is a relationship in our lives that needs mending, let us be brave enough to pick up the phone and call. Choose happiness, choose kindness, and choose life.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President