How to Have an Argument

Written by Rabbi Stephen Baars on . Posted in Torah

“Many pens have been broken and seas of ink consumed to describe things that never happened.” — Maimonides

Our sun is 400 times bigger than the moon, so in order to bring about an eclipse, the moon has to be placed 400 times closer to Earth.

 

No other planet in our solar system has a moon that appears to be the same size as the sun.

I remember, as a child, thinking that the sun and the moon were the same size — it certainly appears that way. It’s shocking to realize that how we see things is not necessarily how they really are.

We think the color red we see is what everyone else sees, too. Try to convince a grandparent their grandchild is not that smart (actually, don’t try). People must stretch themselves to see how others imagine the world, or that reality can be different from how we perceive it.

How we see reality is how we think reality really is. This will explain why the most annoying person in your office thinks that it’s everyone else who has the problem.

In this week’s parsha, the Torah tells us: “Do not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise, and perverts the words of the righteous” (Deuteronomy 16:19).

Rashi (an 11th century French rabbi) comments on this verse: When a judge accepts a bribe from one of the claimants, it is impossible that he will not be inclined to turn the judgment in his favor.

Note, Rashi says “impossible.” Not likely, nor more often; no, impossible!

No matter who you are, no matter how wise you may be, a bribe affects your decisions.

Dealing with difficult people is a real trick. What the Torah is teaching us is to not become one of those difficult people. When you take a bribe, you stop thinking objectively. It’s not that you now think how you see reality reflects how it really is — because we all do that.

It’s that you stop caring if you are right.

Bribes make you think the world revolves around you. In truth, it does revolve around you, in the sense that every human being is really sitting at the top of the world: their world. But, it also revolves around everyone else.

By Rabbi Stephen Baars

 Originally from London, Rabbi Stephen Baars resides in Rockville, Maryland, and serves as executive director of Aish Seminars. He did nine years of post-graduate studies at the Aish HaTorah Rabbinical College in Jerusalem, and has been an educator and marriage counselor for the past 25 years. Rabbi Baars and his wife, Ruth, are blessed with seven children. Learn more about Rabbi Baars at www.getbliss.com and www.core9.live.