Pirkei Avot, Day 11

This is one of my favorite passages from Pirkei Avot. It’s like the Rabbis are reaching through time asking us if we want to be right or we want to be close. Do we want to have knowledge or do we want to have relationships? No matter what your answer, we are warned that the pursuit of wisdom will not carry us through life. Human interaction, closeness, taking care of each other, that is what will endure.

Our wisdom comes from each other, by observing, learning from, and understanding each other.

It’s important to remember this in our relationships especially when we find ourselves in a power struggle. A struggle of who is right and who is wrong. Does it even matter? We’ve all heard it said before: “you can’t change someone. They have to change themselves.” And yet we still believe we can. Any change you think you’ve made in someone because you knew what was right was either 1) inauthentic change or 2) change that they themselves decided to make.

We can offer each other knowledge and love and stories of life’s experiences. But as soon as it becomes about being right more than it does about your concern for the other, you have gone astray.

Being able to let go of our pursuit of “rightness,” our pursuit of being the most knowing, is freeing. It releases the unimportant and makes space for experience and connection and growth as human beings. Our sages knew what was important and we do too. We sometimes just need to be reminded.

I love you all!

Rabbi Gabi

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