“I don’t understand,” the young Torah scholar said. “We offered everything a person could want and hardly anyone came to the event.”
The elderly Rav smiled. “Sometimes a company has the right product, but the merchandising and advertising departments don’t know how to present the item to the public. The failure isn’t due to a lack of quality but rather a lack of understanding how to present.”
“Could you explain what you mean?” the young man asked.
“Certainly,” said the Rav. “Sit down. I’ll share with you knowledge that took decades to accumulate.”
Hashem designed the human being in a way that people achieve maximum wisdom at an elderly age. Young people have energy and excitement, but lack the experience an older person has acquired through years of trial and error. It seems backwards. When one is young and has to make so many life-changing decisions, one lacks the wisdom to do so. Yet when one is older, one possesses the “smarts” to make wise choices but doesn’t have the strength to bring them to fruition.
The purpose of this developmental paradox is to create a situation where the young must seek the counsel of the old in order to maximize the efficient use of their youthful energy. This partnership is a formula for maximizing potential.
The Torah demands respect for elders and for those who are wise. The laws create a relationship of admiration and humility that enables the young to join with the wise and succeed in the continued improvement of society.
Most young people cannot see this principle without being taught the proper balance of their strengths with those of their elders. If the older generation can pass on this one concept to the young, we have a recipe for success of the future generations.
One More Second: Another Thought for The Day
Sometimes silence is bad, as it is written (Mishlei 26:5): “Answer the fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his eyes.” In matters of Torah (Shabbos 30b), if he sees fools mocking the words of Sages, he should answer them to disabuse them of their error so that they not be wise in their eyes. (Orchos Tzaddikim, “The Gate of Silence”)
Rabbi Raymond Beyda serves in the Sephardic Community in Brooklyn, N.Y. He lectures to audiences all over the world. He has distributed over 500,000 recorded lessons free of charge.