Keeping Things in Perspective

Mishaps can happen, but we are responsible for our reactions.

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Reprinted with permission from Torah Topics for Today.

Mishaps can happen to anyone. Whether it's stubbing your toe as you get out of bed in the morning, or something more serious like forgetting your lunch at home, we all have our share of annoyances and challenges. The trick is to make sure we stay in charge of our reactions and not let a small mishap escalate to a full-blown crisis.

Our Torah portion, Shlah, recounts the story of the scouts sent by the Jews to check out the Land of Israel as they drew closer. The spies’ report was very unfavorable. In fact, they seemed to have perceived everything they saw negatively. This attitude rubbed off on the nation; instead of making a realistic evaluation of the report and planning accordingly, they mourned and lamented the fate they were sure awaited them. Their reaction brought about the tragic result of unnecessarily lengthening their stay in the desert by 39 years.

We all “mess up” occasionally. Sometimes we say the wrong word to someone at the wrong time and offend him or her. We can dig in deeper and get upset at the other person’s reaction or we can take control of the situation and apologize properly. Perhaps a spouse left the steaks on for a minute too long. True, I may really enjoy my meat better if it’s rare, but does it really warrant an argument or criticism? Mistakes and mishaps can happen, but we are responsible for our reactions and can ensure that a small mishap remains nothing more than a small bump along the journey of life.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT how well they keep life's challenges in proper perspective.  

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

· Give an example of a minor annoyance or mishap.

· Give an example of a major crisis or tragedy.

· In what way should your reaction be different in the two situations?

· Why is it bad to "make a mountain out of a molehill"?

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Rabbi Moshe Becker is a co-founder of the Jewish Renaissance Experience, an innovative Jewish education and outreach program in Westchester County, NY. He has done advanced research in Jewish Law, philosophy and history at The Jerusalem Kollel and with the Hashkafa Circle and has lectured and written extensively on these topics.