Thinking Things Through

Thinking Things Through

Date: 8/8/2019

הושע נא,  נפש מבהלה,  הושע נא

(from the Hoshana Raba davening)


There is an interesting Midrash that connects the tribe of Reuven wanting to settle in the Ever Hayarden (Parshas Matos) with their ancestor Reuven, the son of Yaakov Avinu, finding Dudaim and giving them to his mother, Leah (Parshas Vayetze)

It must be noted that there are Midrashim that praise Reuven for what he did. The Midrash I want to focus on teaches us a lesson for life by pointing out a character flaw in Reuven which carried over to his descendants: Acting too quickly and without enough thought.

Reuven found some flowers and immediately took those--instead of looking further for something that might have been better. Similarly, the descendants of Reuven found land in the Ever Hayarden and wanted it instead of first looking at what Eretz Yisroel had to offer them.

It seems that this is the character flaw that Yaakov pointed out to Reuven in his Brocha in Parshas Vayechi --פחז כמים .Rashi defines פחז as בהלה .

  What is בהלה ?It is a hurriedness, a hastiness often caused by worry, confusion, excitement or other emotions. It means that the person is not thinking the situation through as thoroughly as he should be. In other words, acting too quickly and without enough thought, as we said earlier. Chazal were very aware of this tendency arising in people and made special Gezeiros to protect us from it .אדם בהול על מיתו and אדם בהול על ממונו 

How bad is such a character flaw? In his popular Motzai Shabbos shiur Rav Yisroel Reisman once explained the נא הושע quoted above. The full נא הושע in which this one appears is a list of many different crops and animals versus the insects, diseases, and other causes that can ruin them. We are asking H-Shem to protect our crops and animals from these sources of destruction

On that list there is one Hosha Na that has to do with Man---נפש מבהלה . Why is בהלה singled out as the destroyer of Man?  Man was created with דעה--the ability to think and apply his accumulated knowledge to dealing with life situations. This is what differentiates us from animals. When a person enters into a state of בהלה , his mind is no longer thinking properly. His emotions are governing his actions more than his דעה. He has thereby lost his צורת האדם

The result is that he is prone to making all kinds of mistakes. Therefore we ask H-Shem to save us from  בהלה
 .. הושע נא, נפש מבהלה, הושע נא

We might ask, but aren't we supposed to act with זריזות? For example, great opportunities often present themselves and if we hesitate, we could miss out!

In Mishle (chapter 21, verse 5), Shlomo Hamelech addresses this valid question and says
.מחשבות חרוץ אך למותר וכל אץ אך למחסור
" The deliberations of industrious people are always advantageous whereas being too hasty only causes damage."

Rabeinu Yona in his commentary on this verse explains that "thinking things through is part of זריזות-- even though one expends extra time thinking---and a person will always gain from doing this." ע"ש עוד

Making sure to think things through properly before taking action...Good advice for life---guaranteed by Shlomo Hemelech...