Mistakes Make Great Lessons

Our mistakes teach us what not to do in the future and shine a light on character traits we can improve.

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Reprinted with permission from Torah Topics for Today.

Everyone makes a mistake once in a while. It’s natural to try to run from mistakes, cut losses, hope nobody notices or makes a fuss, and move on. In reality, though, our mistakes are precious opportunities. They give us insight into life and ourselves and allow us to become stronger by learning to avoid the same pitfalls in the future.

In this week's Torah portion, Naso, we learn about the comeback process after making a big mistake. The verse introduces the topic with the words "And when you shall…," not "if you shall…". Mistakes are a built in feature of life and they happen for a very good reason. When they do happen there’s an acknowledgment of error and a process of improvement.

We like to think of ourselves as good people, which we usually are. That doesn't mean we're perfect though. Life is a journey of growth and development, and we can only grow if we know where we are deficient. A mistake supplies that piece of the puzzle. Our mistakes teach us what not to do in the future and shine a light on character traits we can improve. Sometimes they can be funny, too!

TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT the how to benefit by learning from mistakes.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

· Did you ever learn something from a mistake?

· Have you ever made the same really bad mistake twice?

· What’s better: avoiding embarrassment for a few minutes by denying a mistake (even if you're just fooling yourself) or gaining the confidence of having learned something?

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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.