Gaining From Our Mistakes by Max Shulman


In this week’s Parashah, Parashat Terumah, we learn of the construction of the Mishkan, the tabernacle. In the building of the Mishkan, Bnei Yisrael construct the Aron which hold the two Luchot, which were given at Har Sinai. There is a fascinating Gemara (Bava Batra 14b) which states as follows: ”Luchot VeShivrei Luchot Munachim Ba’Aron,” “The Luchot and the broken Luchot both rested in the Aron.” What is the message that the Gemara is trying to convey to us? Why do we need to have both sets of Luchot sitting in the Aron HaKodesh?

Perhaps the Gemara is teaching us a very true reality. Nothing in this world, whether alive or inanimate, is perfect. We all have challenges that we face, and we cannot allow ourselves to think otherwise. Even the Jews of the desert, who had just stood at Har Sinai, are able to sin so gravely and build a golden calf, ultimately causing the shattering of the first set of Luchot. Yet, Moshe teaches that both sets of Luchot rest side by side in one Aron Kosdesh. Why one Aron, not two Aronim? There is not a bad set and then a good set – they coexist. Although the first set of Luchot breaks due to a major error, Bnei Yisrael are able to move on.

Similarly, it is precisely from our errors that we grow and become better people. Often, one may feel that all hope is gone because of some error that he made. Yet the Gemara is teaching just the opposite – we must learn from our errors and improve. Shlomo HaMelech writes, “Ki Sheva Yipol Tzaddik VaKam,” “Though the righteous may fall (even) seven times, he will rise up” (Mishlei 24:16). The Ba’alei Mussar take this proverb of Shlomo and learn an important lesson. Even Tzaddikim make mistakes, and when they do, it is critical to learn from those errors.

Let us hope that we can all take this message to heart, recognizing and accepting life’s imperfections. Rather than becoming too disappointed with these imperfections, we should utilize them as learning tools for our own personal growth.

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