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Council

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

The Almighty said, "Let us make adam (man) in our image and our likeness." (Bereshith 1:26)

God said, "Let us make man" while consulting with His Heavenly Court.1 In fact, every Divine decision follows the same protocol. God will not declare a decision to be "emeth" until it has first been discussed with His Heavenly Court.2

God's omniscience renders any advice useless. What can He be told that He does not already know? Yet God has decided not to finalize any judgment without first consulting with His creatures. The lesson for us is clear: people can not expect to arrive at correct decisions without consulting with others beforehand.

King Solomon once demonstrated that through his wisdom he could reach a true decision without the aid of others. Two women approached him, each of whom just given birth to a baby boy. One mother told the king that her own baby was alive and her friend's baby had died, while the second woman said that her friend's baby was dead, and that her baby was alive. King Solomon detected from the order of the second woman's statement that her main concern was that the other woman's child was still alive. In order to prove that the first woman was the true mother, he ruled that the baby should be cut in half, each woman receiving half. When the second woman agreed to this, it was clear that she had been lying.

After this tremendous display of human insight, King Solomon asked God that he be permitted to make judicial rulings by himself, without the aid of witnesses. A heavenly voice proclaimed that his request had been refused. Only after taking council with others can one hope to arrive at true decisions.3

Why is it so important to ask for advice? Human perspective is limited, especially since humans are often afflicted by bias. Since each person has their unique perspective on any given situation, another person's view can catch what one's own eyes missed. As our Sages taught, "The more advice one seeks (from people who are qualified to offer it), the more understanding one will have."4


1. Rashi on Bereshith 1:26.

2. Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 2a.

3. Rosh Hashanah 21b, according to the commentary of the Maharitz Chayoth.

4. Pirkei Avoth 2:7.


Text Copyright © 2008 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 

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