Minute #671: Connections

“It’s hard to believe he lasted such a short time,” Mrs. Leviov said. “He was given such a responsible position and came so highly recommended for the job.”

“I heard he was hired because his family is very connected with the higher-ups,” Mrs. Spiegel said. “Connected doesn’t necessarily mean qualified.”

“Knowing someone successful or being related to someone who has achieved doesn’t transfer their accomplishments to you,” Mrs. Leviov said. “It’s best to depend on your own merits and you’ll be less likely to disappoint.”

Rebi Akavyah ben Mehalelel was asked by his son to recommend him to his colleagues. The father refused his beloved son, saying, “Your deeds will make you attractive and your deeds can make you repugnant” (Eduyot 5:7). The father’s sage advice was a prediction: “If you behave properly, others will embrace you; if you don’t, they will reject you regardless of my recommendation.”

In today’s world, many believe that it’s not what you know but whom you know that counts. Being judged on merit, however, is what will result in long-term success. Too many believe that familial ties and friendships will produce favorable results. In fact, they are prescriptions for disaster. If one is not truly qualified for the benefit or position one seeks, the truth will come out and the “favor” will not be enough to prevent dismissal.

Using influence to gain advantage when the honest truth would not produce the same results is a deviation from Torah standards of honesty. Besides the fact that such benefits will be short lived, it sends the wrong message to our children. Rebi Akavyah refused his son’s request in order to teach him the value of truth over misrepresentation. In a world devoid of values, our obligation is to teach values at every opportunity to produce a righteous generation for the future.

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

Awareness of the inevitability of death need not cause sadness. Rather, we can use it to destroy the common worries about inconsequential aspects of life. Many worries are over matters that have no lasting value. When you overcome worry, your mind will be free to think of your ultimate goals in life. (Harav Yechiel Michel Tukachinsky, Gesher HaChayim, vol. 3, p. 24)