Bo: Is It Really Stupidity?

My son was just telling me of the recent trip his class took.  In order to get there, they had to go to the central bus station and catch local buses.  So, as they were waiting, the class got in a conversation with a soldier who was also waiting for his bus.  Naturally, they asked him about the weapon he carried and he answered all of their questions and proceeded to take it about to show them how everything works.

How different of an upbringing my kids are receiving (on many different levels) then what I have.  Here they are, casually talking about this assault rifle (or machine gun) asking questions coolly about how it operates.  A gun to them is nothing but something people use in defense against terrorists.  No connection to any other forms of violence.  No concepts of school shootings, stickups, gang violence, or domestic violence.  A soldier, standing around with a machine gun is nothing new in their lives.  They can simply go up and start schmoozing with him about whatever they want.


There’s something healthy about that.


Rav Yisroel Raizman once gave a talk on how the level of guilt a person feels about doing a certain sin is dependent a lot on how much they feel other people do the same sin.  If it’s a "popular" sin, then he doesn’t feel so bad.  If he believes nobody else does that sin, then he feels far, far worse.


Stupidity works in the same way.


Yesterday, I spent 30 minutes on a Chazon Ish, trying to understand what he was talking about.  No matter what I did, I kept getting stuck on a certain phrase which has no relevance to the halachos that I’m learning.  Finally, I got up, and asked somebody about it.  He looked at it, and told me that I was translating a certain word into Hebrew, when it should be translated into Aramaic.  With that new translation in hand, everything became clearer.


I didn’t feel so bad about it.  A few weeks ago, I learned the Gemara (Yoma 20b), which speaks of how “calling of the ‘gever’” would start the day for the Cohanim in the Beis HaMikdash.  The Gemara describes that there is a question on what this “gever” is.  Is it a person (as translated in Hebrew) or is it a rooster (as translated in Aramaic).  In fact, the Gemara goes into detail about a story regarding Rav who was speaking on behalf of Rav Shila.  Rav Shila gave over his lesson saying it’s a chicken.  Rav, when saying it over in a loud voice to the public, translated it as a person.  Rav Shila, corrected him, saying, “No, translated it as a ‘chicken,’” thinking that Rav erred in his translation.


If the writers of the Talmud can have arguments based on how to translate words, or even which language the word should be translated in, then I certainly can err in this regard and not feel bad.


The important part, when running into "walls" like this, is to realize “You’re not the only one making these mistakes!” and simply keep on going.


Have a great Shabbos!