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Making the “Right” Decision – Parshat Mattot

Making the “Right” Decision – Parshat Mattot

There are times when people are able to overcome inner battles and do the right thing. The battle may even be so strong that overcoming it is close to heroic. If it is avoidable do we enter the battle willingly and forcefully? Do we avoid such situations? The answer is not simple and, of course, will depend on the individual and the situation confronted.

In this week’s parsha Parshat Mattot, we find Moshe commanded to avenge the wrong done to the Israelites by the nation of Midyan.1 Fascinating, though, Moshe does not go to wage the battle but sends others in his place. Rabbi Zohn offers a fascinating insight into Moshe’s behavior.

                      The Midrash explains that Moshe spent a few decades of his adult life in Midyan and found himself unable to harm the Midyanites.  Because of all he had benefited from the Midyanites it was not proper for him to engage them in battle. This is the greatness of appreciation for past chessed (acts of kindness).2

Moshe recognized this part of him that felt appreciation. In the past he had not gone out to every battle and must also have felt it was unnecessary for him to be the one to lead Israel into this particular battle. It may even be said that God taught him to make this kind of consideration.3 This is the consideration Moshe used in making his decision.

We all make emotional decisions – sometimes they can harm us, Rich Dad Robert Kiyosaki tells us.4 Sometimes they can help us. How do we know??? It can be extremely difficult to figure this out while decisions have to be made.

We all make emotion-based decisions – sometimes they can harm us, Rich Dad Robert Kiyosaki tells us.4 Sometimes they can help us as numerous studies have shown us as well.5 How do we know??? It can be extremely difficult to figure this out while decisions have to be made. The more time you have in which to make the decision, the better off you are in weighing all the sides – emotional and cognitive. We don’t always have time. And we can sometimes make mistakes. And sometimes the fear of making another one mounts.

There is an old joke that goes something like this: “what is the difference between a painter and a doctor? The painter gets to hide his mistakes with another layer of plaster and paint.”

Yes, we all make mistakes. Some we are aware of, some we are not. Some we learn from, some we do not. Even Viktor Frankl’s call “Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”,6 does not always help to make the “right” decision.

What may help, at least for our emotional health, is noting that we are making the best decision we can with the information available. And to do that, we need to be aware of what our emotional side is telling us as well.

Our emotions can even be a part of the factors involved in making the “right” decision. They are, after all, part of us and help make us who we are.

Moshe recognized who he was and what could possibly impact on him. Do we?

 Click here for another logoParsha article on Parshat Mattot

Notes

  1. Bamidbar 31:2. See also Bamidbar 25:17-8
  2. Here is a link to Rabbi Zohn’s
  3. See Rashi Shemot
  4. Kiyosaki, Robert, 5 Keys to Thriving During the Next Market Crash, p.3
  5. Numerous articles on the benefits and detriments of the effect of emotions upon our decision making.
  6. Frankl, Viktor, Man’s Search For Meaning, p. 109

 

 

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