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Should One Respect Someone Who Has Lost Torah Wisdom?

“I took hold of the two tablets and threw them from my two hands and broke them in your sight” (Deuteronomy 9:17).

According to the Talmud, the broken pieces of the shattered tablets were gathered up and placed in the ark along with the new tablets that replaced them (Berachos 8b). The Talmud there teaches that we must be careful to continue to respect an elder who has forgotten his Torah knowledge as a result of circumstances beyond his control. Even though he is no longer a Torah scholar, he must still be respected for the Torah that he once possessed.

Rabbi Efrem Goldberg offers another important lesson based upon this Talmudic teaching. Our mistakes and failures should not be discarded and forgotten from our memories. We can only grow when we remember these broken experiences and use the lessons learned from them as springboards for success.

The wise King Solomon wrote that a righteous person will fall down seven times and get up (Proverbs 24:16). According to Rav Yitzchak Hutner, the point is not that the nature of a righteous person is to pick himself up after his failures. Rather, Solomon is teaching us the path to becoming righteous. It is by learning from our mistakes and using them as a catalyst for growth.

By Rabbi Michael Skobac


Rabbi Michael Skobac had been involved with Jews for Judaism (Canada) since 1989 and currently serves as its Director of Education and Counselling. He is a leading authority on missionaries, cults and issues relating to Jewish continuity and Jewish spirituality. Rabbi Skobac's publications include Missionary Impossible; Counter-Missionary Survival Guide; The DaVinci Code: A Jewish Perspetive; and Intermarriage: Is There Ligth at teh End of the Tunnel?


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Republished by Angelique Sijbolts with permission for the Noahide Academy.

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