Learning From Everyone

Each and every person we interact with can teach something.

Commentary on Parashat Yitro, Exodus 18:1 - 20:23

Intelligence may be in our genes, but wisdom is certainly not. A person becomes wise when he or she realizes that everything in his or her life is an opportunity to learn something. Everything that happens to us and everyone we know (yes, everyone) can teach us something.

In our portion we find Moses listening carefully to, and implementing, the suggestion of Jethro. Moses was the greatest of all prophets. He communicated directly with G-d and was given the Torah. Not only was Jethro not a prophet, he was Moses’s father-in-law! Yet Moses had the humility and the wisdom to heed Jethro’s advice on how most efficiently to reorganize the courts by appointing a middle level of Judges.

We all excel at something. Some people excel at many things. No matter how accomplished we are, there is always more to learn. The lessons often come in unexpected and surprising ways when people are willing to see life as a learning experience. The people we learn from need not be our peers or superiors in intelligence. Each and every person we interact with can teach something. If we are open to learning the ‘unconventional’ lessons of life, we become wise and inspire those around us to wisdom as well. Let’s turn intelligence into wisdom!

TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT the importance of being open to learning from everyone.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

· Name something positive you have learned from a friend.

· Name something you have learned from a sibling.

· Have you ever learned something important when you were not expecting to?

· Name something you have learned from a person you did not know before.

From “Values and Ethics: Torah Topics for Today,” available from Behrman House Publishers.

 

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