Quoting: To Err is Human

A student of Rabbi Nochum Zev Ziv once erred in the pronunciation of a word when publicly repeating the Amidah prayer. Someone pointed out the correct pronunciation, and the student repeated the word accurately. However, the student became confused and nervous and made many more errors.

After the prayers, Rabbi Nochum Zev approached him and said, “How is it possible to be so arrogant? Do you think you are so perfect that you cannot possibly make any mistakes?”

When I told the above story to someone, they asked, “Won’t the student feel even worse and more upset by the fact that his teacher told him he was arrogant?”

It depends on how such a message comes across. If said with understanding and concern, the message is, “I care about you. Why do you have to make yourself so upset over a minor error? Of course, you are fallible and make mistakes. Expect to make mistakes and keep trying to improve, but do not feel devastated when you err.”

Sources: Imrai Daas, p.218; Gateway to Happiness, pp.130-1

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6 thoughts on “Quoting: To Err is Human

    • It would have been embarrassing alright. Although this wisdom is centuries old, in the 1989 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation Pen Pals, Riker gives Wesley the same lecture. For some unimaginable reason, Picard put Wesley in charge of a planetary mineral survey where he would be in command of officers way older and more experienced than he was. True, he’s a genius, but it was still a dumb move in my opinion. Anyway, Wes is complaining to Riker that he’s afraid of making a mistake. Riker’s response is pretty much the same as the Rabbi’s. It’s arrogant to think you’ll never make a mistake. So make one, learn from it, and move on.

      Liked by 1 person

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