inloggen
×

Mijn Crescas

Inloggen met gebruikersnaam & wachtwoord






Zonder wachtwoord snel inloggen?

Columns

Weblogs disclaimer

Nathan Lopes Cardozo

Rabbijn Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo (1946) werd geboren in Amsterdam en woont sinds 1977 in Israël. Als kind van een Portugees-Joodse vader en een niet-Joodse moeder heeft hij een lange weg afgelegd. Op zijn 16e is hij ‘uitgekomen’ (Joods geworden) bij Chacham Salomon Rodrigues Pereira. Jaren later haalde hij zijn rabbijnentitel aan de orthodoxe Gateshead Yeshiva. In Jeruzalem richtte hij de David Cardozo Academy op. Rabbijn Lopes Cardozo publiceert regelmatig en neemt daarbij geen blad voor de mond.

vrijdag 13 november 2015

Nothing is more difficult than admitting a mistake, yet nothing is more human than making one.

In several places, the Torah deals with the need for and the merit of admitting one's mistakes. After all, a life spent making mistakes is not only much more honorable, but the alternative is much worse. People who make no mistakes usually accomplish nothing. And only those who spend their time in self-absorption and vanity are faultless. There is no road in between, and there is no escape. Owning up to our errors is greater than merely knowing how to avoid making them. It is wisdom gained.

In the book of Bereishit, we read about a powerful example of having the courage to admit a mistake. When the sons of Yaakov met their brother Yosef, the second in command of Egypt, they finally realized that they had badly erred in the way they had dealt with him 22 years earlier, when they had sold him to foreigners.

After Yosef treated them harshly and put them in jail, they recalled their behavior toward him and how they had sold him all those years ago:

"And they said to each other: ‘We are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the suffering of his soul when he pleaded to us, and we would not hear; therefore this suffering has befallen us" (1).

When carefully examining this case, we realize the enormous courage and strength that the brothers displayed at this crucial moment in their lives.

Rashi informs us (2) that the brothers drank no wine from the day they sold Yosef until they saw him in Egypt. This seems to imply that during all those years their joy was diminished (as in a state of mourning), perhaps because they were continually deliberating and re-evaluating their earlier decision to sell Yosef. Not a day passed that they did not ask themselves if they had acted correctly, and for years they had presumably come to the conclusion that justice was on their side.

Only after more than 20 years did they have second thoughts, realizing that they had been wrong for all that time! This must have been a devastating and traumatic experience; one that few of us could endure. Who is able to declare that he has lived for so many years in error and now has the courage to change his mind?

Owning up to a mistake that was made through an impulsive decision is difficult enough, but admitting a wrongdoing that was thought about for years and was seen as absolutely justified is a completely different ballgame.

Often, we make the terrible mistake of entrenching ourselves in our errors instead of admitting them. Consequently, we are no longer capable of taking a fresh look at the issues involved. The mind is, after all, a devoted captive of our desires and personal wishes.

One must live the way one thinks, or end up thinking the way one lives. To live is to regret so as to live anew.

Our main problem is thinking that admitting our mistakes weakens our stand in the community. We believe that we lose the respect of our fellow human beings and will be taken less seriously by those around us. However, looking more closely at our story proves different.

As long as the brothers insisted on their innocence, Yosef responded harshly, calling them spies and showing them little respect. Once they showed regret and openly admitted their mistake, he realized their astonishing greatness and behaved toward them with much compassion.

Looking into another story that deals with a similar issue, we see how Yitzchak “trembled violently” (3) after he discovered that he had mistakenly given blessings to his son Yaakov and not to his first-born, Esav.

Unlike what many people believe, the Sages point out that what made Yitzchak tremble was not so much his realization that he had wrongly given the blessings meant for Esav to Yaakov, but that he suddenly understood how he had for years misread Esav's constitution and temperament, thinking he was fit to receive those blessings.

It is remarkable that the realization of his mistake was seemingly more traumatic than when he was told years earlier by his father Avraham that he was to be sacrificed on Mount Moriah. Nowhere do we read that this caused him to tremble violently.

Throughout the Talmud and later commentaries we see how the Sages did not shy away from admitting a mistake. A famous case in point is mentioned in Tractate Shabbat:

"When Rabbi Dimi came, he said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: 'How do we know that woven [material] of whatever size is [liable to become] ritually unclean? From the tzitz [the head plate worn by the High Priest].' Said Abaye to him: 'Was then the tzitz woven? But it was taught: The tzitz was a kind of golden plate, two fingers wide and it stretched around [the forehead] from ear to ear …' And Rabbi Eliezer son of Rabbi Yose said: 'I saw it in the city of Rome [where it was taken after the destruction of the Temple, and it was indeed made of gold] …' When Rabbi Dimi went up to Nehardea, he sent word: 'The things that I told you were erroneous.'" (4)

He changed his mind. The importance of this admission is borne out by the fact that the Talmud took the time to record it!

This may well be the reason why even God sometimes makes a "mistake." In a famous passage in the Talmud, we read that the Sages decided a certain law against the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer who was known to be the sharpest mind of his day and was fully supported by God:

"On that day Rabbi Eliezer brought every imaginable argument, but they [the Sages] did not accept them. He said to them: 'If the law is as I say, let this carob tree prove it.' Thereupon the carob tree was torn [miraculously] a hundred cubits out of its place [proving that God was on his side] – others say it was four hundred cubits! 'No proof can be brought from a carob tree,' they retorted. Again he said to them: 'If the law is as I say, let this stream of water prove it,' whereupon the stream of water flowed backwards. 'No proof can be brought from a stream of water,' they rejoined. Again he argued: 'If the law is as I say, let the walls of this schoolhouse prove it,' whereupon the walls inclined to fall.

“But Rabbi Yehoshua rebuked them [the walls], saying: 'When scholars are engaged in a halachic dispute, why do you interfere?' Hence they did not fall, in honor of Rabbi Yehoshua. Nor did they resume their upright position, in honor of Rabbi Eliezer; and they are still standing thus inclined. Again he said to them: 'If the law is as I say, let it be proved from Heaven,' whereupon a heavenly voice cried out: 'Why do you dispute with Rabbi Eliezer, seeing that in all matters the law is as he says!' But, Rabbi Yehoshua arose and exclaimed: 'It [the law] is not in heaven' (Devarim 30:12). What is meant by this? Rabbi Yirmiyahu said: 'It means that the Torah has already been given at Mount Sinai; we pay no attention to a heavenly voice, because You, God, have long since written in the Torah at Mount Sinai, "One must incline after the majority” (Shemot 23:2).'" (5)

This remarkable story raises many questions: Why did God not agree with Rabbi Yehoshua? He had clearly stated in His own Torah that when opinions conflicted, one should follow the majority of the Sages and no longer rely on any heavenly voice. Why did He deliberately try to confuse the Sages by giving His opinion against His own instructions?

One way of looking at it is that God decided to give the impression that He had made a mistake when saying that Rabbi Eliezer was right and the Sages wrong! This is borne out by the continuation of the story:

"Rabbi Nathan met Eliyahu [the prophet, who is considered to be immortal] and asked him: 'What did the Holy One, Blessed be He, do at that moment [when Rabbi Yehoshua declared that he would not obey His heavenly voice]?’ He replied, 'He smiled [with joy], saying, My sons have defeated Me; My sons have defeated Me’" (6).

Indeed, when mistakes are raised to the level of God, the ultimate Source of wisdom, and God admits His "mistakes," we can rest assured that it is nothing less than honorable to act similarly. God risked His reputation of being all-knowing. Instead of fearing a loss of prestige, He felt that admitting His mistakes only enhanced His dignity.

Even more astonishing is the observation in the Talmud that God brought a chatat (sin offering) on His own behalf to atone for His having diminished the size of the moon. (7)

Nothing more needs to be said.



(1) Bereishit 42:21.
(2) Ibid., 43:34.
(3) Bereishit 27:33.
(4) Shabbat 63b.
(5) Bava Metzia 59b.
(6) Ibid.
(7) Chullin 60b; Shevuot 9a.

Delen |

Uw reactie:

vul de beveiligings-code in
aug 2019The Sweetening of the Divine Word
aug 2019A Command to Cancel the Commandments Tolerating Heresy
jul 2019Life: The Courage to Say 'Li'
jul 2019The Divine Insanity of Halachic Chess
jul 2019Limmud
jun 2019The Embarrassment and Honor of Being Called a Rabbi, and Third-Epoch Halacha
jun 2019The High Priest, the Pope and I
jun 2019My Struggle with Persuasion and the Truth Concerning other Religions
jun 2019Is the Torah Divine? Thoughts for Shavuot on Combustibility
mei 2019A Vote of Confidence
mei 2019To Madonna
mei 2019On Music Baths And Art As Religious Protest
mei 2019Yom Ha’atzmauth The Eternal Marriage
mei 2019My Chareidi and Modern Orthodox Struggles Question 9, Part Two
apr 2019Bread is an Arrogant Matza
apr 2019Question 9 My Chareidi and Modern Orthodox Struggles Part One
apr 2019The Israeli Elections Radical Otherness
mrt 2019Faith and Freedom The Passover Haggadah of Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Berkovits
mrt 2019Thoughts to Reject Purim
mrt 2019My Hardship with Honest Teaching And Its Privilege
mrt 2019My Controversy with the Mainstream Orthodox Community – Part 2
mrt 2019My Controversy with the Mainstream Orthodox Community – Part 1
feb 2019My Fascination with the Chaotic World of the Talmud Ten Questions for Rabbi Lopes Cardozo
feb 2019The Kotzker, Spinoza and I Ten Questions for Rabbi Cardozo
feb 2019The Sanctity of Shabbat Yes to the Ayalon Bridge, No to the Eurovision Song Contest
feb 2019My Search for and Momentary Loss of God
jan 2019Why I (Refuse to) Pray Ten Questions for Rabbi Cardozo
jan 2019Torah Reaches Beyond the Boundaries of Strict Halacha
dec 2018An interview with Rabbi Cardozo: Taking issue
dec 2018Parashat Miketz The Pain of Being a Tzaddik
nov 2018Parashat Vayeshev Divine Emanations, Chanuka and the Future of the State of Israel
nov 2018Parashat Vayishlach Amalek, Jewish Injustice, Converts and a Warning to the Chief Rabbinate
nov 2018Parashat Vayetze Be Fearful of Religion (1)
nov 2018Parashat Toldot Admitting A Mistake: Even God Does
nov 2018Pittsburgh - In Memory of Its Victims Faith, Death and Frontal Encounter (A Short Insight while on the ...
okt 2018The Curse of Religious Boredom
okt 2018Parashat Noach
okt 2018Introduction to Torah Torah: The Unavoidable and Disturbing Text
sep 2018Simchat Torah: The Unapproachable Text
sep 2018Simchat Torah Technology and the Outdated Torah Scroll
sep 2018Rosh HaShana: Fairy Tales and Humor
aug 2018Rosh HaShanah: What Really Counts
aug 2018The Joy of Saying: I am Sorry The Portuguese Spanish Selichot
aug 2018Parashat Shoftim Surround Yourself with Cleanliness
aug 2018Achieving Unity While Remaining Divided
jul 2018Tish'a B'Av – The Ninth of Av Who Needs the Temple?
jul 2018The Controversy Surrounding My Louis Jacobs Memorial Lecture
jun 2018Scandalous Halachic Decisions Ethiopians and Wine
jun 2018Parashat Chukat The Curse of Religious Coercion
jun 2018Conversion An Open Letter to Israel’s Chief Rabbis
jun 2018Parashat Behaalotecha Theocracy, Democracy, and Halacha *
mei 2018Why a Second Day Yom Tov? The Incomparable Greatness of the Land of Israel
mei 2018Atheism: Belief in the Unbelievable I have tried to be an atheist, but skepticism always got in the way
mei 2018Parshat Bechukotai To Have or to Be, That Is the Question
mei 2018Sefirat HaOmer The Secret to Human and Rabbinical Autonomy
apr 2018The Tragedy and the Challenge A Forgotten Mission
apr 2018Seventy Years of an Unyielding 3,330-Year Marriage Yom Ha'atzmaut
apr 2018Yom HaShoa – Jewish Life or Just Israeli Life? Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai or A.B. Yehoshua?
mrt 2018The Great Mystery: Why Karpas?
mrt 2018Plato’s Haggada in the “Dialogues”
mrt 2018An Open Letter to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and the Charedi Leadership
mrt 2018Collapsed Halacha and Moshe’s Mask
mrt 2018Megillat Esther and the Nervous-Syndrome Chess Game
feb 2018Conversion and the Birth of Amalek A Warning to the Chief Rabbinate
feb 2018Finding One's Neshome (1) Franz Rosenzweig and the Berliner Shtiebel
feb 2018The Enduring Preciousness of the Secular Jew *
feb 2018The Challenge of Yitro Would Yóu Convert?
jan 2018Parshat BeShalach Jewish Self Delusion
jan 2018Circumcision: Why Risk Your Child's Well-Being? A Call to All Israelis.
jan 2018Moses The Successful Failure
jan 2018Jesus, a Warning to Our Rabbis
dec 2017Halacha Means Full Liberty To Be Secular Would Be Hell: Everything Would Be Forbidden
dec 2017Soul Jews and Halachic Jews
dec 2017Codifying Jewish Law is Not Authentic
dec 2017Jewish Law (Halacha) as Rebellion
nov 2017Be Fearful of Religion Parashat VaYetze
nov 2017The Bet Midrash of Avraham Avinu
nov 2017The Bet Midrash of Avraham Avinu
nov 2017The Bet Midrash of Avraham Avinu Lectures and the Academy
okt 2017The Wonder of Judaism The Bet Midrash of Avraham Avinu
okt 2017Freud’s Subconscious Discovery of God
okt 2017Afterthoughts on Simchat Torah: The Unbending Sefer Torah
okt 2017Sukkot Is a State of Mind Nakedness and a Desert Full of Snakes
okt 2017Afterthoughts on Yom Kippur Ultimate Love and the Danger of Religious Exhaustion*
sep 2017An Open Letter to My Synagogue The Curse of Indifference
sep 2017Embryonic Judaism The Bet Midrash of Avraham Avinu
sep 2017The Bet Midrash of Avraham Avinu Tentative Thoughts Toward a Jewish Religious Renaissance
aug 2017The Turmoil in the USA
aug 2017Jewish Law (Halacha) as Rebellion (2)
aug 2017Jewish Law (Halacha) as Rebellion
jul 2017In Defense of Rabbi Dweck and Orthodox Judaism An Open Letter to Rabbi S. F. Zimmerman, Rav of Gateshead, ...
jun 2017The Waters of Strife The Devastation of Religious Coercion Parshat Chukat
jun 2017A Modern Day Inquisition Rabbi Joseph Dweck The Tragic Story of Rabbinical Small-mindedness
jun 2017Speaking Lashon Hara about the World
jun 2017The Holocaust: Divine Retribution?
mei 2017The Desert and the Wandering Divine Word
mei 2017The Ban on Circumcision Blatant Anti-Semitism and Ignorance
mei 2017Kohanim: The Challenge of Educational Dissent
mei 2017Are We Really Living at the Dawn of the Redemption? Afterthoughts on Yom Ha’atzmaut
apr 2017Boredom and the Immature Elderly
apr 2017Pesach: God’s Sporadic Presence and Overwhelming Absence in Human History
mrt 2017Parshat Vayikra The Trouble with Sacrifices Why Spinoza’s Ethics Were Not Given at Sinai
mrt 2017Johann Sebastian Bach and the Tent of Meeting
mrt 2017An open letter to Rabbi Cardozo in response to his article on Rav Soloveitchik Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik ...
mrt 2017Purim and the Challenge of the Holocaust
mrt 2017Thoughts to reject For the Early Connoisseur Purim
feb 2017Sinai Now!
feb 2017Parashat Yitro Racism and the Wisdom of a Gentile
feb 2017The Genius and Limitations of Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik z”l
feb 2017The Chief Rabbinate and Its Disgrace Who Is an Exceptionally Great Sage?
jan 2017The Unknowable, Loving and Aggravating God “I am as I shall be” (*Shemot* 3:14)
jan 2017Rabbinical Tyranny and Freedom of Thought
jan 2017Calling for Religious Unity Only Leads to Division The Need for Personal Conscience
jan 2017Syria and the Scandal of our (Orthodox) Synagogues
dec 2016Divine Emanations, Cause and Effect, and Chanukah
dec 2016God is not a “what,” nor a “when”, and not even a “who” God and the Fires
dec 2016God and The Fires “Because of Our Sins, This Has Befallen Us?”
dec 2016The Purpose of Sefer Bereishit The Abuse of Halacha: Keeping Halacha under Control Part 2
nov 2016The Abuse of Halacha: Keeping Halacha Under Control Part 1
nov 2016Walking Mountains, Shabbat and the Buddha
nov 2016The Curse of Religious Boredom
nov 2016Torah: The Unavoidable and Disturbing Text
okt 2016Torah from Heaven The Deliberately Flawed Divine Torah The Theology of the Halachic Loophole
okt 2016Approaching Tragedy with Joy
okt 2016Yom Kippur: Who is Able to Eat?
sep 2016Do We Dare to Blow the Shofar?
sep 2016Against Indifference Prayer for the World
sep 2016God Does Not Exist So Let Us Serve Him! For Poets, Musicians, Artists and Deep Souls
sep 2016For Poets, Musicians, Artists and Deep Souls The Hopelessness of Dogma and the Beauty of faith
sep 2016Let Us Violate Shabbat So As To Sanctify It The Holy Day and the Tel Aviv Railway
aug 2016Wanted: Rabbis with Knives between Their Teeth The Need for a Genuine Upheaval
aug 2016A Slap in the Face to the Holy One Blessed Be He?
aug 2016Rabbinic Despair and Simple Courage
aug 2016The Chaos Theory of Halacha
jul 2016How the Mighty Have Fallen On Joy and Jealousy
jul 2016Faith is the Joy of Religious Doubt and Uncertainty
jun 2016The Kotel Have We Gone Mad? A Call to All Denominations and Other “Holy” Warriors
jun 2016Israel, the American Elections and the Turmoil in Our World A Parable
jun 2016Shavuot Would You Convert? Like Yitro?
jun 2016Orthodox Rabbi Teaching Halakha Beyond the Shulkhan Arukh, Judaism Beyond the Commandments
mei 2016Parshat Bechukotai The Miracle of Satisfaction
mei 2016Sefirat HaOmer: What Really Counts
mei 2016An Unyielding Marriage of 3500+ Years Yom Ha’atzmauth
mei 2016Yom Hashoa The Quest for Authenticity Rembrandt and the Holocaust
apr 2016Blessed Are Those Who Eat Chametz!
apr 2016Plato’s Advice: Do Not Read The Haggada!
apr 2016The True Art of Sport: Game or Torture?
apr 2016Are You Really Eating Kosher? On Camouflage, Hypocrisy and Hiding behind the Kashrut Laws
mrt 2016The Making of an Enemy The Birth of Amalek
mrt 2016Purim, God’s Hidden Face, and the Advantage of a Permanent Job
mrt 2016The Hazard of Fluency
mrt 2016Rabbinical Courage and the Frozen Text
feb 2016Have Some Pity on the Anti-Semite!
feb 2016Shut Down the Kotel!
feb 2016A Remorseless Judaism
feb 2016Milk and Meat: The Dangerous Mixture
jan 2016Halacha as the Art of Playing Chess Divine Insanity
jan 2016Am I Still Orthodox? Answer to a Jerusalem Rabbi
jan 2016The Desecration of Halacha
jan 2016The Threat of Freedom
dec 2015Amsterdam Spinoza Symposium It Is Time to Lift the Ban
dec 2015Arguing Against Oneself: Joseph’s Self-Revenge
dec 2015Needed: Redemptive Halakha How Halakha Must Transcend Itself
dec 2015Chanukah: Hypocrisy or Authenticity
nov 2015A Prophetic View: The Gentile Aliyah Epidemic
nov 2015Oh, that I Could Take Off My Kippah!
nov 2015Admitting A Mistake: Even God Does
nov 2015 How Old Would You Be If You Did Not Know How Old You Are?
okt 2015The Religious Scandal of Akeidat Yitzchak and the Tragic God
okt 2015Israel: The Blessing of Insecurity
okt 2015God, Where are You? An open letter
okt 2015Simchat Torah: Rush or Stagnation
sep 2015The Trouble with Kal Nidrei We Are All Marranos
sep 2015Rosh Hashana Is Judaism Your Supreme Passion? (1)
sep 2015Courage, Rabbis, Courage! The Need For Mass Conversion
aug 2015Conversion and Annie Fischer’s Interpretation of Schumann’s Klavierkonzert in A Minor
aug 2015Conversion Is Not About Halacha
aug 2015The Immortal Highway
aug 2015Marriage: The Courage to Say ‘Li’
jul 2015Torah: Hearing the Divine Voice at Sinai Now
jul 2015The Temple Is of Little Importance, It Is the Eye of the Needle That Counts
jul 2015The Supreme Court of the United States, Same-Sex Marriage and Other Prohibitions
jul 2015Faith Means Joyful Uncertainty
jun 2015Religion is Dangerous; Plato, Halacha and Dreams
jun 2015The Dangling Bridges of Halacha Making rules where rules should not exist
jun 2015Bold Ideas: Take the Bike or Tram, Get a Free Coffee, and Observe Shabbat! (1)
jun 2015Halacha: The Disturbing Search for God
mei 2015Make Anti-Semitism a Source of Jewish Pride
mei 2015Shavuot, The Wonder and Glow of God’s Word
jul 2014De paradox van ‘Wie is een Jood’
mei 2014Joden, Sisyphus en Sport – (Met enige ironie!)
mei 2014God is aan het verhuizen
apr 2014Seideravond: karpas en de veelkleurige mantel
feb 2014Groots denken omtrent het jodendom
dec 2013The Abuse of Halacha
nov 2013Limmoed en het orthodoxe fiasco