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Bo(Exodus 10:1-13:16)

Listen and Hear

After God set seven plagues upon Egypt, Pharaoh's servants finally said to him:

"How long will this be a snare for us? Send out the men that they may serve ... God! Do you not know that Egypt is lost?" (Exodus 10:7)

 

A LIFE LESSON

The Egyptians had just experienced seven severe plagues that God set upon them. Even though Pharaoh had also witnessed all of it, he still remained stubborn in refusing to let all of the Jews go free. However, Pharaoh's servants - the ones who waited on their master hand and foot - had complete clarity: if the Jews were not freed, then Egypt and its inhabitants would be completely destroyed.

How is it that a king was unable to see what was so abundantly clear to everyone else?

The reason is that often we're much too close to a situation to be able to see it objectively. Since it was Pharaoh who was speaking directly to Moses, he was too emotionally charged with what was happening to "his" country. Too close to the forest to be able to see the trees. Pharaoh - like many of us who are too close to something in our own lives - has the misguided belief that since we feel we know the situation the best, then we're also in the best position to know what should be done. Therefore, we won't entertain any other ideas or opinions.

It all comes down to objectivity. Whenever someone is emotionally immersed in something, then by definition he will have little or no objectivity. How often have you known someone who was involved in an unhealthy personal relationship but failed to see just how detrimental it was? And he justified being closed-minded to any other opinions because he embraced the notion that "no one knows the person like he does." And that's exactly why he can never be objective or act rationally. Anyone so close to a situation loses the larger picture and cannot see it clearly.

This is why it's imperative always to seek others out and sincerely ask for and hear their advice. Our human nature will oftentimes discount what other people are telling us. This is because if we embrace their viewpoints, then we have to admit to ourselves that we made poor choices and will continue to do so. This "saving face" mentality of not hearing good advice is why people continue to just rationalize their poor behavior instead of changing.

One can never grow or become great with this philosophy. The greatest men have always been able to admit their wrongs of the past and then, based upon a new perspective, choose to make healthy and productive choices.

So listen to those around you who know you well and whose opinions you value. But the ball will ultimately still be in your court, so fight the urge to justify your past actions and start taking good advice. While it might not be easy on your ego to do this, it will, however, make you great.

Published: January 1, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 12

(11) Stuart, January 18, 2013 10:57 PM

Ombudsman

I am an Ombudsman, resolving complaints from patients/clients in the health care sector. I know much less than the experienced managers, specialized health care providers, patients and family members. The only reason I can be helpful, suggest solutions, is my objectivity. Thank-you for your insightful interpretation of this Bible section.

(10) Sofer Milovitch, January 14, 2013 1:05 AM

Great article - analogy reversed?

The article is great - however, I think you have the forest/trees analogy reversed - Pharoah could only see his own pride (trees) and could not see the destruction of his country (forest).

(9) patty berenson-leppert, February 2, 2012 8:50 PM

This article is wonderful. Read and reread when the stress of having to appear as "perfect" in your vocation or your personal aspirations. It will to a great degree, lift your burdon.

(8) Dod Robert, January 28, 2012 1:50 AM

So right on

The boys in the "young men's group" I lead at the treatment center this afternoon came to the same conclusion. I asked them to name a positive change they wanted to make. Each said he wants to slow down and make the right choices in his life, like in relationships with those close to themselves. Each agreed that it would be hard. But to get support each could let the others know of the difficulty they were having. One boy asked the others to help him if they heard him talking anxiously or having difficulty with his thoughts about a close personal relationship. To me, that took the kind of humility this Life Lesson is describing. Thank G-d all I had to do was guide the boys to it, and it is what they came up with.

(7) Anonymous, January 27, 2012 10:13 PM

Amazing

I will definitely be sharing this at my Shabbat table! Amazing point!

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