Parshat Ki Tavo
When do we understand things? When can we say we have a handle on a situation? Many times we come across a scenario or state of affairs and we may quickly make ‘educated’ decisions about how to act. That can’t be all there is to coming to a conclusion, there must be another element to being able to make a firm and confident choice.
Moses, the timeless giver of advice, causally gives us the directive on how to make informed decisions. It’s kind of in the middle of something, but it was said. Towards the end of this week’s Torah portion, Moses gives his last speech, his last charge to the Jewish people. Just to paint a picture and to give the scene a little color, think about a man, a leader who has taken close to 3 million people out of slavery. Not only did he take them out of slavery, but he reformed a mentality that was part of their cultural makeup, and led them through the highs and lows of a journey which is still remembered and scrutinized 3,300 years later. Then he gave his last words of inspiration before he was to pass on.
One of the things he said was, “today G-d has given you the heart to know, the eyes to see, and the ears to hear”. It is clear from the text that his reference is to the understanding of why G-d put us here and to what our mission is. The important part (for this discussion) is that we can only really comprehend something when our heart knows, our eyes see and our ears hear.
The first question is what happened to the “mind which understands”? Shouldn’t that be a part of the equation? The reason the mind isn’t one of the factors here is because Moses didn’t need to state the obvious; he wanted to tell us that which we wouldn’t necessarily know. His first rule is that the heart has to know. If your heart isn’t involved in the decision, then there is a problem. The heart does not mean your emotions or your ‘gut’, it is a combination of both. Then your eyes must see; there has to be a clear vision and plan. Don’t expect to always be impromptu and be improvising and have everything work out. Yes it can happen here and there but don’t make a living off it. Then your ears must hear, perhaps the most ‘sound’ of all the advice. You must listen to what others have to say. We may be smart people and on paper many thing ‘check out’, but not even the greatest of minds can hold water next to an experienced individual. It’s not so bad to listen a little bit.
If we make sure to follow these instructions then our understanding will be that much deeper and our actions which we base on those ideas will be that much more effective. Good luck.