I was unjustifiably upset. I bought a Noah’s ark toy for my grandchildren. It happened to come with a lot of little pieces, some of which had to be put together. One of the little pieces I found was a tap. A tap? On Noah’s ark? Really? I found this hard to take. As I mentioned this to one of my daughters, she jokingly said, “Well, how else would they get water?”
As I was cleaning up I found the paper which came with the ark listing all of the pieces. I checked the paper to find my tap. After all, it was possible that the tap came from another toy. Well, the tap did come from the ark, but it was supposed to be assembled with two other pieces to make a barrel with a lid that had a tap. This discovery made me feel better.
But what if I didn’t see the paper? It could have easily been thrown out before I got a chance to see it. I jumped to a conclusion which made me upset. We all know that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions, but it sometimes takes a simple example like this to bring it to our attention. We often only see part of a fight between children, or only hear one side of an argument between adults. Yet, we pick and choose and get upset and sometimes yell and punish without knowing the full story.
Likewise, we don’t have the full story with life. What is life all about? Sometimes the pieces of life just don’t fit together. Or there is something out of place, like a tap for Noah’s ark. How do we deal with such situations?
I was going to write a letter to the toy company which made the Noah’s ark set. But what can I do with life situations? I can write a letter to a government official if I believe that the government is doing something wrong. But if something unfair happens, like someone dies young or is hurt badly in an accident, what can I do? Who can I write to? Would it do any good, even if there was someone to identify? Sometimes, what’s done is done and we have to learn to move on.
Sometimes we consider a problem and figure out a solution and other times we can’t. Sometimes we can get people to agree to disagree and get on with a relationship. But it is important to see the other sides’ point of view. Too often we get upset and lash out because we feel something is wrong. It is important to step back and look at the bigger picture. Sometimes it is not a matter of right and wrong but rather different points of view.
I was very glad that I hadn’t written the company to complain about a tap on Noah’s ark. Sometimes there really are explanations that make sense. And sometimes we will never know the full story and we are left bewildered.
The truth is that there are many things in life that we don’t understand – even if we really try to figure them out. And many things, like the tap, that we misunderstand for various reasons.
One thing I know for sure is that life is not easy. There are many mysteries and many obstacles. Some obstacles are clear, even if their path is a challenge and sometimes the obstacles are hidden, even if we think the path is clear.
But, we need to investigate. We can’t just accept that a tap on Noah’s ark is okay or that it is a mistake.
This past holiday season I heard a lot about tshuva (repentance). It means that the next time that we come across a similar situation we won’t make the same mistakes. So this year, I am going to try very hard not to jump to conclusions: not about taps, circumstances or people.
I will try to hold back from judging, especially when it is clear that there are more points of view or information that I don’t have at hand. Yes, it is my right to write letters and complain to companies when I feel that they did something wrong or can improve. And, yes it is my right to complain when life seems unfair. But, I also need to understand that I don't always, in fact, rarely do I have, all the information.
So this year I hope to do a better job investigating what I can and trying to understand events before passing judgments. I know that I will not always find a simple explanation like I did with the barrel on Noah’s ark, but at least I can try.
Marcia Goldlist is a regular contributor of blog postings on Jewish Values Online. She was the author of one of the blog postings selected for the Second Quarter 5779 Jewish Values Online Best Blogs.
Please note: All opinions expressed in Blog Postings and comments on the Jewish Values Online site and through Jewish Values Online are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, beliefs, or position of Jewish Values Online, or those associated with it.
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