> Weekly Torah Portion > Beginner > Straight Talk

I Was Wrong

Vayakhel-Pekudei (Exodus 35-40 )

by Rabbi Shaul Rosenblatt

Life is far too short for us to try to prove that we are right all the time.

Moses first instructs Betzalel to build the vessels of the Tabernacle, and then to build the Tabernacle itself. Betzalel, a much younger man (according to some, only 13 years old), replies that surely it makes sense to build the structure first. Who makes furniture, he says to Moses, before they have a house in which to put it?

In the ancient world, to disagree on a public matter with the reigning Head of State was not such a clever idea. In challenging the head, you'd usually lose your head. However (and we see this many times with Moses), the opposite occurred. Moses admitted he had made a mistake and publicly bowed to Betzalel's opinion.

It takes tremendous strength of character to be able to admit, especially in so public a forum, that you made a mistake. All too often, the burning desire of our egos to be the one who is right overtakes our desire for truth. It's so easy to defend an opinion, only because it is ours, long beyond the time we know it to be incorrect.

It's sad that one of the greatest phrases in the English language, "I was wrong," is so rarely used. In admitting you were wrong, the sense of personal integrity is hugely empowering and uplifting. And far from undermining your credibility in the eyes of others, it actually helps establish it.

"I was wrong" is always a fantastic phrase to use (and nowhere more so, by the way, than in a marriage. In a certain way, it's more of a pleasure to be wrong than to be right. When you are right, you have proven a point and made someone else feel uncomfortable. When, however, you accept that you are wrong, you have not only learned something new, but you also experience the uplifting trait of humility.

Obviously, there is no need to admit to being wrong if you really are right. However, admitting to being wrong when you are wrong is a wonderful experience. Moses had no fear of being wrong. He recognized that no human being was infallible, and when he made his mistakes, he owned up, fixed what he had done wrong, and got on with the job at hand.

Life is far too short for us to try to prove that we are right all the time. If we learn to be happy recognizing our mistakes, it will save us a great deal of energy battling futile causes simply to defend our pride. Train yourself to say the words, "I was wrong," so that when you need to, it's easy to say. You may even come to enjoy it!

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