Thursday, 8 May 2008

Learning from All - Even a Thief!

Many people are of the opinion that there are some who we should simply stay away from - that there is nothing we can learn from them. Perhaps - we might even say - they have it all wrong. Immediately our defense mechanisms kick into gear and we don't want to hear another thing about the person or subject concerned.

While it is true that there is *much* we must be very aware of and stay away from, there is also much we can learn from all. There is nobody in the world that does not have the ability to teach another something else - no matter who he is, what he does, or what he says. This doesn't mean we are to set out on learning the latest secular philosophies and latest ideas of the modern world - leaving the authentic Torah for those who wish to follow the authentic Jewish life-style. On the contrary, we need to focus our energies completely in Torah - and learn from all who can teach it in the correct way.

More so, of course, when the teacher of Torah is himself a true example of what Torah and Judaism are all about. All the more so should we be careful to first hear what this authentic teacher has to say before closing our ears and opening our mouths with false allegations and statements to nullify the possibility that such a person could actually be authentic.

Today's teaching of HaYom Yom - "Day by Day" - the first book compiled by the Lubavitcher Rebbe based upon teachings heard from his father-in-law - the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, speaks about learning from EVERYONE.

There is much we can learn from those we come into contact with on a regular basis. Not only this, but we can even learn from people we don't meet. Stereotypes and others, who even if we don't know personally, we know well what their "professions" are all about. If we can learn from these individuals, then all the more so we should be prepared to learn from those who are truly legitimate, kind, caring and giving people whose only messages to the world are about adding in goodness and kindness, and bringing into this world an era of complete peace - Shalom.

HaYom Yom for today: 3 Iyar

"We do not drink water before Havdalah"

"It is possible to use all character traits, even those traits which are not good, or are even bad according to their description and names, in one's service to G-d in accordance with Torah. Just like the Rebbi, the righteous Rabbi Zusia Meshulam of Anipoli of blessed memory learned many ways in the paths of service (to serving G-d) from a thief:
  1. The thief does things quietly without others knowing
  2. The thief places himself in a place of danger
  3. The thief considers the smallest thing like the biggest
  4. The thief toils with great effort
  5. Enthusiasm!
  6. The thief has confidence and is optimistic!
  7. If he didn't succeed the first time, he goes back (and tries again) many times!"
We can learn even from a thief... and it can actually make us grow in our Yiddishkeit!

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