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Sivan 10

Building by youth may be destructive, while when elders dismantle, it is constructive (Nedarim 40a).

It seems paradoxical, but it is true. We make the most important decisions of our lives when we are young and inexperienced, and our maximum wisdom comes at an age when our lives are essentially behind us, and no decisions of great moment remain to be made.

While the solution to this mystery eludes us, the facts are evident, and we would be wise to adapt to them. When we are young and inexperienced, we can ask our elders for their opinion and then benefit from their wisdom. When their advice does not coincide with what we think is best, we would do ourselves a great service if we deferred to their counsel.

It may not be popular to champion this concept. Although we have emerged from the era of the `60s, when accepting the opinion of anyone over thirty was anathema, the attitude of dismissing older people as antiquated and obsolete has-beens who lack the omniscience of computerized intelligence still lingers on.

Those who refuse to learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them. We would do well to swallow our youthful pride and benefit from the teachings of the school of experience.

Today I shall...

seek advice from my elders and give more serious consideration to deferring to their advice when it conflicts with my desires.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

Published: May 21, 2009

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