September 29, 2013
Stumbling blocks are not fun. I can't think of anyone who enjoys stumbling. It is awkward, embarrassing and it slows us down. What benefit can there possibly be to a stumbling block?
Who would be thankful for stumbling?
Who? Rabbah the son of Rabbi Huna, that's who.
But who is that?
Well, he is well known to all students of the Talmud. He is one of the great and humble scholars whose words and deeds contributed to make the Talmud one of mankind's greatest achievements.
I was studying a passage in Tractate Gittin of the Babylonian Talmud, and Rabbah the son of Rab Huna made a certain statement. He was quickly contradicted by another scholar.
His response? He called a gathering and he acknowledged his mistake. He read a verse from the book of the Isaiah, "and this stumbling block is under your hand" (Isaiah chapter 3, verse 6) and he expounded;
"A man does not fully understand the words of the Torah until he has 'been tripped' over by them". In other words...it is the failure, the mistakes, the stumbling that allows us to see where we went wrong and correct ourselves. This is where the real growth comes from. From making mistakes, analyzing them, going deeper with the wisdom and knowledge. One who has not made mistakes will never truly grow.
The Chinese have a similar saying, "One disease, long life, no disease, short life."
The message is clear, trial and error, admit your mistakes, learn from them, and maybe 1,500 years down the line someone might mention your name.